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Full text of "The triumph of an idea; the story of Henry Ford"

THE TRIUMPH 

OF AN IDEA Ra r e H , 

THE STORY OF HENRY FORD 





I 



Ford Exposition Edition, Price 50c 



The advent of the automobile 
brought a clash of industrial ideas. 
Should the new vehicle be high- 
priced, obtainable only by the 
wealthy? Or should it be a vehicle 
of service to all humanity within 
reach of the pocketbook of EVERY 
family? Henry Ford's answer was the 
Model T, which became known as the 
"Universal Car" and of which he man- 
ufactured more than 1 5,000,000. 

With the Ford car available to the 
millions, there sprang up a nation-wide 
demand for better roads. The Ford 
car proved a great SOCIAL factor in 
the development and growth of the 
American people. And the story of 
the founding, success, and growth of 
the Ford Motor Co., giving the world, 
as it did, its first great picture of modern 
mass production, is an industrial epic 
which this volume attempts to tell. 

It is a story of facts that less than a 
generation ago would have been a 
fairy tale. 

Illustrated by 52 photographs. 



From the collection of the 



Prelinger 

1.1 a 

v JJibrary 



San Francisco, California 
2006 




THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 




HENRY FORD 



THE 

TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

THE STORY OF HENRY FORD 

By 

Ralph H. Graves 




ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS 

Garden City, New York 

Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. 

1934 



PRINTED AT THE Country Life Press, GARDEN CITY, N. Y., u. s. A. 



COPYRIGHT, 1934 

BY RALPH H. GRAVES 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

FIRST EDITION 



CONTENTS 

Chapter Page 

I A LONE PIONEER I 

II THE BEGINNING OF AN INDUSTRY . . 16 

III PERFORMANCE AND PROFITS .... 33 

IV THE "UNIVERSAL CAR," MODEL T , 49 
V WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 67 

VI THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY . . 98 

VII A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE V-8 . 126 

VIII DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN . . 1 60 



THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 



I 

A LONE PIONEER 



H 



ALF A CENTURY HAS PASSED since Henry Ford's 
attention was attracted to a contrivance called "a silent 
gas engine." A German named Otto was the inventor, 
and a description of the primitive affair in an English 
magazine caught the eye of the Michigan farm boy, 
who had now become a machinist in Detroit. He got a 
chance to repair an Otto engine at the Eagle Iron Works 
in 1885. The dissection of that single-cylinder machine, 
run by illuminating gas, marked the start of patient 
investigations which were to launch the era of motor 
transport. It marked, also, the beginning of the fifty 
years which we of today appraise as the period most 
productive of scientific achievement in the world's his- 
tory. 

Along with the gasoline engine, the automobile and 
good roads, our generation has seen the conquest of the 
air, the development of radio and motion pictures, the 
increase of safeguards for sea travel, the perfection of 
farming machinery, the upheaval of autocratic govern- 
ments, and, perhaps most important of all, the spread 
of education through which the minds and hearts of 
men are diverted into new channels of thought and 
feeling. Progress in invention and industry has with- 
stood wars and panics, has defied the periodic hysterias 
afflicting humanity in their wake. 



2 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

In the foreground of this progress has evolved the 
Ford idea, at first an enthusiast's dream in a scoffing 
world, slowly proving its soundness by years of pains- 
taking research, growing into a vast manufacturing 
structure, and finally typifying the motor age as a 
corner stone of our modern industrial system. 

Looking backward to the year 1885, one finds it diffi- 
cult to realize the changes that have come about in the 
half century. Kings then ruled by " divine right" over a 
large portion of the earth. Queen Victoria was in her 
forty-eighth year on the British throne, Alexander III 
had been Russia's czar for half a decade, a Manchu em- 
peror reigned in China, the Hapsburgs overlorded 
Austria, Wilhelm II had yet three years to fret before 
becoming the German Kaiser. In the United States the 
first term of President Grover Cleveland was just begin- 
ning. General U. S. Grant died in that summer. 
Franklin D. Roosevelt was three years old, Benito Mus- 
solini a year younger. P. T. Barnum was running "the 
Greatest Show on Earth." The Nestor of the stage was 
Edwin Booth, and among the bright stars were Lester 
Wallack, Sir Henry Irving, Joseph Jefferson, Sarah 
Bernhardt, Helena Modjeska, William H. Crane, and 
John Drew, while the younger actors behind the foot- 
lights included Richard Mansfield, Ada Rehan, Eleonora 
Duse, Kate Claxton, and Lily Langtry. 

Hadfield's invention of manganese steel and Parsons's 
steam turbine were the wonders of the past twelve- 
month. Only sixteen years earlier the last spike of the 
first transcontinental railway had been driven into a 
Utah desert, and twenty-one years had gone since the 



A LONE PIONEER 3 

development of the open-hearth process, the birth of 
the age of steel. 

The incandescent electric light was but six years old. 
For household and street lighting, illuminating gas had 
been one of the wonders of modern ingenuity until 
Thomas A. Edison, in 1879, completed the long series 
of experiments which resulted in his vacuum bulb con- 
taining a filament that emitted, when electrified, a light 
brighter and more serviceable than any hitherto known. 
Edison's interminably careful methods were exemplified 
by this most famous of his inventions. He spent years 
trying out materials for a filament, discarding platinum 
because of its cost, and almost abandoning carbon be- 
cause it blew itself to pieces if electrified in contact with 
air. On discovering that the carbon would burn in a 
vacuum without destroying itself, he had the problem 
well-nigh solved. There yet remained a vast amount of 
detail, however, before perfection could be reached. 
Hundreds of materials were used for filament before the 
inventor decided that bamboo was the best. Thereupon 
he sent men all over the world to find the most superior 
bamboo. The Japanese variety was chosen after the 
search had cost $100,000. For years that fiber was used 
satisfactorily, until it was supplanted by a more 
economical filament made by squirting a solution of 
cellulose through glass jets into alcohol. When the 
alcohol coagulates, the hardened cellulose is carbonized 
by heat. There can be no doubt that prior to the motor 
age Edison's incandescent lamp was the invention which 
most vitally affected the everyday life of the everyday 
man. 

In the autumn of 1885 the first electric street railway 



4 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

in the United States was opened in Baltimore. Even this 
visible marvel in transportation was regarded by the 
public as an achievement of limited possibilities. The 
idea that a horseless vehicle with no tracks beneath it 
would ever travel over the open road was too much for 
the imagination of all save a few dreamers. The "horse- 
less carriage," of which visionaries had talked for hun- 
dreds of years, was still as distant, so far as the average 
man could see, as it had been when Leonardo da Vinci 
invented the wheelbarrow. 

But Henry Ford and the other creative scientists of 
the day were not average men. In Ford's mind the 
engine that would be strong enough and light enough 
to propel a vehicle for passengers or freight was im- 
minent. He was not the only inventor who worked 
toward the goal; but he was a lone pioneer, for only in 
the vaguest way did he know what the others were 
doing in the early stages of his experiments. Of course, 
as he learned in later years about the discoveries of 
chemists and mechanics here and abroad, he studied 
their findings, accepted the principles that proved valu- 
able, and rejected ideas that failed to accord with his 
own conclusions. He gave credit where credit was due, 
never hesitating to acknowledge the achievement of a 
competitor. That he succeeded beyond his rivals was due 
to an open mind as well as to untiring persistence. 

When Ford began to tinker with the Otto engine, 
not a yard of good road, as we understand the term 
today, had been laid in America. Desultory efforts to 
improve city streets included the building of a short 
asphalted pavement in Newark, N. J., in 1870. Two 
years afterward a brick surface was used in Charleston, 



A LONE PIONEER 5 

W. Va., and in 1879 a part of Pennsylvania Avenue, in 
Washington, D. C., was bedded with asphalt. Bicyclists 
became vocal in their demand for better roads in 1880, 
but in the ensuing decade the public officials who 




Henry Ford as a youth. 

interested themselves in road improvements were 
rarities. The subject was regarded with the same skepti- 
cism which greeted any other innovation. It was not 
until 1892 that modern concrete was used for one side 



6 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

of a square in Belief ontaine, Ohio, and only in 1908 
was the first mile of rural concrete built in Wayne 
County, Michigan. Incidentally, Henry Ford was a 
member of the county's Board of Road Commissioners 
in 1906-07. 

But that is getting ahead of our story. When Ford 





II 



M n 




Birthplace of Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan. 

developed his first definite plan of building an auto- 
mobile, he thought of a car which would run on the 
rough roads of Detroit and its vicinity. If he visioned a 
six-lane concrete highway, he was dreaming as far into 
the future as Jules Verne dreamed when he forecast the 
undersea boat. 

The idea of gas engines was old, but Otto's effort to 
put one on the market was the first sign that anybody 
considered them of practical use. Ford studied the con- 



A LONE PIONEER 7 

traption at odd moments in the next two years, mostly 
at night in his home shop, when he had finished a day's 
work on his regular job. He read everything within 
reach on scientific topics, including the tale of Gottlieb 
Daimler's petroleum-burning engine which was at- 
tached to a bicycle, causing great astonishment among 
the inhabitants of Mannheim, Germany. Doubtless he 
scanned, without much attention, the newspaper 
columns of 1886 chronicling the Chicago anarchist 
riots, Steve Brodie's leap from the Brooklyn Bridge, the 
Charleston earthquake, and the unveiling of the Statue 
of Liberty in New York harbor, and in the next year 
the theater fires of Paris and Exeter with their hundreds 
of victims, and the drowning of nearly a million 
Chinese in the Hoang-ho River floods. It is not recorded 
whether he heard until afterward that Panhard and 
Levassor bought the French rights of Daimler's inven- 
tion and in 1887 actually built a motorcar, which was 
an object of mirth rather than serious interest among 
the Parisians. 

About the time this equipage was clattering over the 
boulevards, Ford built an engine on the Otto four- 
cylinder plan, with a one-inch bore and a three-inch 
stroke, operated by gasoline, and somewhat lighter in 
weight than the original. Soon afterward he returned 
to his father's farm, rigged up a workshop for further 
experiments, and married Miss Clara J. Bryant. They 
began their life together in a small cottage, a few 
months before his twenty-fifth birthday, in 1888. 
When he was not cutting timber, he worked on gas 
engines. 

In the year 1888 the first pneumatic tire was pro- 



THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

duced by Dunlap, and New York had its famous March 
blizzard, which could not have held much interest to 
the young inventor, reared in a region of heavy snows. 
Probably he gave not a thought to the tragedy of the 
Austrian Crown Prince Rudolph, whose death by 
suicide or murder has been a historic puzzle from that 
day to this. Certainly he did not know that the next 
year, 1889, was distinguished by the birth of Richard 
E. Byrd, explorer and flyer, though he may have given 
passing notice to the inauguration of President Ben- 
jamin Harrison, the Johnstown flood, the opening of 
Oklahoma for settlement, and the admission of four 
new states: the Dakotas, Washington, and Montana. In 
1890 he started to construct a double-cylinder engine, 
after having built various experimental engines, and de- 
cided that for transportation a single-cylinder was im- 
practicable because its flywheel weighed too much. 

At first he planned to put the double-cylinder engine 
on a bicycle, but figured out that with the gas tank and 
necessary controls it was too heavy. Moving his work- 
shop to the shed in the backyard of a modest city house, 
when he accepted a $45-a-month job as engineer and 
machinist with the Edison Illuminating Company of 
Detroit, he continued experimenting in his "leisure" 
hours. He has said that in the years of testing and plan- 
ning he was never doubtful of succeeding, and that his 
young wife was even more confident in the future of 
the gasoline-driven automobile. He called her "The Be- 
liever." 

In the two-year interval before he completed his first 
car, minor inventions pointing toward the automobile 
were reported, but none that appreciably influenced 



A LONE PIONEER 



Ford's activities. He stuck to his last and knew little 
of what was happening outside his daily routine. In the 
year 1890 the new states of Idaho and Wyoming were 
admitted into the Union, the People's party held its first 




WHERE THE FIRST FORD CAR WAS BUILT 

Brick, workshop in the inventor's backyard, Bagley Avenue, 

Detroit, now in the historical village at Dearborn. 

convention in Kansas City, the McKinley tariff law 
went into effect, Chief Sitting Bull was killed in the 
Sioux war, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands ac- 
quired a ten-year-old queen, Wilhelmina. In 1891 a 
bomb thrower blew himself to pieces when trying to 
kill Russell Sage in New York, and his identity as a New 



10 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Englander named Norcross was established through a 
button, the only whole thing left intact about him after 
the explosion. Another happening of that year was New 
Jersey's establishment of the first Highway Department 
in the country. 

Random discussions of good roads had gained suffi- 
cient headway by this time to attract the attention of 
railway operators. One rail executive was quoted as de- 
clining to deliver material to a road contractor on the 
ground that he did not wish to encourage such com- 
petition. Perhaps he had just heard that in 1892 the 
Massachusetts Legislature voted to initiate the country's 
second Highway Department, an example soon followed 
by six other states. 

In the early spring of 1893, a few weeks after Grover 
Cleveland started his second term in the White House, 
a motorcar moved through a Detroit street with Henry 
Ford on its single seat. He had built the automobile in 
the previous autumn, but months of testing were 
needed to make it run satisfactorily. It looked like an 
old-fashioned buggy. In his autobiography, My Life and 
Work, the inventor has described the car as follows: 

There were two cylinders with a two-and-a-half-inch 
bore and a six-inch stroke set side by side and over the rear 
axle. I made them out of the exhaust pipe of a steam engine 
that I had bought. They developed about four horsepower. 
The power was transmitted from the motor to the counter- 
shaft by a belt and from the countershaft to the rear wheel 
by a chain. The car would hold two people, the seat being 
suspended on posts and the body on elliptical springs. There 
were two speeds one of ten and the other of twenty miles 
an hour obtained by shifting the belt, which was done by 



A LONE PIONEER II 

a clutch lever in front of the driving seat. Thrown for- 
ward, the lever put in the high speed; thrown back, the low 
speed; with the lever upright the engine could run free. 
To start the car it was necessary to turn the motor over by 
hand with the clutch free. To stop the car one simply re- 
leased the clutch and applied the foot brake. There was no 
reverse, and speeds other than those of the belt were ob- 
tained by the throttle. I bought the ironwork for the frame 
of the carriage and also the seat and the springs. The wheels 
were twenty-eight-inch wire bicycle wheels with rubber 
tires. The balance wheel I had cast from a pattern that I 
made, and all of the more delicate mechanism I made my- 
self. One of the features that I discovered necessary was a 
compensating gear that permitted the same power to be ap- 
plied to each of the rear wheels when turning corners. The 
machine altogether weighed about five hundred pounds. A 
tank under the seat held three gallons of gasoline which 
was fed to the motor through a small pipe and a mixing 
valve. The ignition was by electric spark. The original 
machine was air-cooled or, to be more accurate, the motor 
simply was not cooled at all. I found that on a run of an 
hour or more the motor heated up, and so I very shortly 
put a water jacket around the cylinders and piped it to a 
tank in the rear of the car over the cylinders. 

An April rain had soothed Ford's neighbors to sleep 
when he bounced out of his yard on the eventful night 
in 1893, but such were the noises of his strange vehicle 
that the inhabitants were aroused forthwith. Faces ap- 
peared at all the windows roundabout. Mrs. Ford stood 
on the front steps, watching her husband as he vanished 
jolting and clattering into the farther reaches of Bagley 
Avenue. 

For a long time the gasoline buggy was the only 



12 



THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 




FORD'S FIRST CAR THE GASOLINE BUGGY 

He finished building it in 1^93, and for months it was one of 

the sights of Detroit. 

automobile in Detroit. The police and the owners of 
frightened horses viewed it with suspicion. Wherever it 
appeared, traffic was blocked and curious pedestrians 
gathered to ask questions. The owner was obliged to 
tether the car to a lamp-post if he left it unattended, 
for somebody was always ready to take a chance at 
running it. At last he had to get a special permit from 
the mayor, thus acquiring, as he has related, "the dis- 
tinction of being the only licensed chauffeur in 
America." 

For the first performances of his automobile Henry 



A LONE PIONEER 1} 

Ford happened to choose an eventful year. History, 
both scientific and political, was busy in the making 
through 1893. Edison invented his motion-picture ma- 
chine. A peculiarly fitting coincidence of the year was 
the establishment of the Federal Office of Road Inquiry 
by Congressional order. Few if any of the Solons in 
Washington knew Henry Ford. None of them, in all 
probability, believed in horseless vehicles, nor indeed 
were the lawmakers of the nation or the states destined 
to show any faith in useful motor transport during that 
decade. The Federal Office of Road Inquiry and the new 
State Highway departments were due to the bicycle 
craze rather than the coming of motors. However, the 




Three decades afterward the same gasoline buggy. 



14 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

movement for good roads began to find support at just 
the right time to aid in developing the motorcar, 
Toward the end of the year there was another spurt of 
concrete paving in Bellefontaine, the Ohio town which 
was for a long time the only community interested in 
the sort of road surface the whole country would 
eventually demand. 

The year's record of notable events included the 
deaths of ex-President Rutherford B. Hayes, James G. 
Blaine, and Edwin Booth. Mayor Carter Harrison, Sr., 
of Chicago was assassinated. Two kings who now 
occupy their thrones were born, Carol of Rumania and 
Prajadhipok of Siam, and the motion-picture star, Mary 
Pickford. The World's Fair was opened in Chicago that 
year. 

With omens of progress on all sides, Ford probably 
regarded the depression of '93, if he thought about it at 
all, as a passing phase which would be superseded by 
better and better times. In the miracle story of the Ford 
car optimism has been the keynote, from the gasoline 
buggy to the V-8. No panic could be so fearsome, no 
depression so disastrous, no war so terrible, that the Ford 
forecast failed to register a tide of rising prosperity. 
And behind the optimism was a continuing faith that 
the power of machinery and engineering must relieve 
mankind of drudgery and afford time for the enjoy- 
ment of life. While Henry Ford had not formulated in 
the two-cylinder epoch all his economic theories of later 
years, he was committed from boyhood to a supreme 
belief in the adequacy of science for maintaining the 
world's progress. The only delay in moving forward, as 
he demonstrated in his early experiments, was the 



A LONE PIONEER 15 

caution which must temper a true scientist's enthusiasm. 
With such caution, but with a background of complete 
confidence, he proceeded to build engine after engine, 
car after car; eagerly though he sought to improve his 
product, he threw away no old ideas until study and 
tests proved the value of the new. His gasoline buggy 
of 1893 was as carefully planned and built, in view o 
the experience then available, as the more elaborate 
automobiles of later decades. 

He ran this first car a thousand miles, sold it for two 
hundred dollars, because he needed the money, and 
after a few years bought it back to keep as a curk). 



II 

THE BEGINNING OF AN INDUSTRY 



N. 



EARLY THREE YEARS went by before Ford started 
to build his second car. The old gasoline buggy served 
his purposes for personal transportation, and he took his 
wife or a friend on a ride every now and then, until 
the novelty wore off. In his laboratory he spent all the 
time he could get, after finishing the day's shift on his 
job with the electric light company, which promoted 
him steadily until he was chief engineer at $125 a 
month. 

The first automobile was only a milestone on the way 
toward the goal of quantity production. Ford was in no 
hurry. A lot of study, innumerable experiments, ob- 
servation of the world's advances in science, were req- 
uisites for the inventor who could succeed in creating 
a car worth producing in quantities and who knew how 
to choose the right time for launching the business of 
motor manufacturing. 

It would seem, from the vantage of the present, that 
no seer was needed to realize the deficiencies of trans- 
port in the early 'nineties. Isolation was the fate of all 
who dwelt outside of large cities. To visit a neighbor 
ten miles distant meant a day's travel, over roads often 
hub deep in mud, or with such ruts that locomotion in 
horse-drawn vehicles was as dangerous as it was slow. 
Towns and villages off the railway lines were hardly less 

16 



THE BEGINNING OF AN INDUSTRY I/ 

desolate than the farms. Although electricity was com- 
ing into its own for rail travel in the cities, and a few 
towns were beginning to boast jerky trolley cars along 
their main streets, no interurban network was yet 
dreamed of. 

In Europe the motor idea had progressed far enough 
in 1894 for a road race from Paris to Rouen. The win- 




BEFORE MEN BELIEVED IN MOTORS 

A Michigan farmhouse, facing an ancient country road and a 
primitive railway line. 

ning car, which averaged twelve miles an hour, was re- 
garded solely as a racing machine. None but a bold pilot 
would have dared to ride behind its roaring, sputtering 
engine. 

As the financial depression crept on its course, caus- 
ing widespread distress but apparently interfering not 
at all with the general trend of human affairs, science 
scored its points before the year ended. Lake perfected 
his invention of the even-keel submarine. A second city 



i8 



THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 



in America, Water town, N. Y., laid down a section o 
concrete pavement. 

The hard times brought continuous labor troubles. 
After the courts had enjoined Chicago's strikers, Pres- 
ident Cleveland sent federal troops to the city to enforce 
order. This climax of walkouts by mine, factory, and 
railroad workers had been preceded by a countrywide 
uneasiness when "General" Jacob S. Coxey led an army 




Detroit in 1890, before the skyscraper era. 

of 20,000 unemployed from the Middle West to the 
National Capital. The Wilson tariff bill was passed, 
with the Democrats explaining that it would save the 
country, and Republicans predicting ruin: at least in 
that regard 1894 was like many other years. 

On the other side of the earth began the Chinese- 
Japanese War, causing the same cry of "Yellow Peril" 
that has since echoed from each crisis in the Orient; 
the conflict was to end with Japan's taking the Liaotung 
Peninsula, Formosa, and the Pescadores, whereupon, 
though there were no long-distance airplanes in those 



THE BEGINNING OF AN INDUSTRY 19 

days, prophets of disaster foretold the onrush of the 
yellow races across the western hemisphere. In Europe 
time marched on with the accession of Nicholas II as 
Czar of Russia. Edward Albert, Prince of Wales, was 
born in England. Boris, future King of Bulgaria, pre- 
ceded him to this vale of troubles by a few months. The 
assassinated President of France, Sadi-Carnot, was suc- 
ceeded by Casimir-Perier, and in the last days of the 
year Captain Dreyfus was publicly degraded as a traitor 
and sent to spend nearly twelve years on Devil's Island 
before his vindication brought him back to Paris. 

The Ford experiment shop was not idle, though its 
owner was only testing and planning. He had already 
come to the conclusion which he phrased long after- 
ward: "Rushing into manufacturing without being cer- 
tain of the product is the unrecognized cause of many 
business failures." 

Among the events of the year 1895, he doubtless 
regarded as most important the fact that California and 
Connecticut joined the states founding departments to 
encourage road improvements. He must have noted the 
death of Thomas Huxley in England. Incidents that 
would not have concerned him, if he had heard about 
them, were the election of Felix Faure to the Presidency 
of the French Republic, and the graduation of a young 
man named Herbert Hoover at Leland Stanford Uni- 
versity. A new revolution in Cuba, lasting until its 
leader Antonio Maceo was killed in action the following 
year, was too remote from the Detroit workshop to 
merit much thought. More interesting were Preece's dis- 
covery of low-frequency wireless telegraphy in 1895, 
and Marconi's discovery of the high-frequency waves in 



20 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

1896. Nearer home, though of small import to the 
scientist, was the seething national campaign, in which 
the free-silver issue, vainly championed by William J. 
Bryan, monopolized the political stage for two years 
before William McKinley's election to the Presidency in 
the fall of 1896. 

Ford's second car, built that year, was lighter than 
the first but had the same belt drive, which he later 
supplanted with gears when he found that belts did not 
work well in hot weather. Meanwhile he had taken a 
trip to New York in 1895 to look at a Benz car, on 
exhibition in Macy's store. He found in it nothing to 
envy or imitate. The German invention was too heavy. 
Unlike the pioneer manufacturers abroad, Ford con- 
sidered lightness a prime necessity in an automobile. 
For that reason he had become convinced that no steam 
engine could be made to propel a practical vehicle over 
the roads, and subsequent investigations of electric 
storage batteries ruled them out on the same ground. He 
continued his experiments with internal-combustion 
engines despite ridicule from practically everybody with 
whom he discussed the subject. 

His introduction to Thomas A. Edison, who after- 
ward became his intimate friend, was a memorable 
incident, for the master of electricity gave him encour- 
agement which he had been unable to get from anybody 
else. Chosen as one of four men from the Detroit 
company to attend the annual convention of the Asso- 
ciation of Edison Illuminating Companies at Manhat- 
tan Beach, N. Y., in 1896, he met Edison on the porch 
of the Oriental Hotel. Edison, who was forty-nine years 
old, found that Ford, who was nearing his thirty-third 



THE BEGINNING OF AN INDUSTRY 21 

birthday, hailed from Detroit, so he kept him chatting 
about the country they both knew and the Grand 
Trunk Railroad. At the afternoon session and again at 
dinner the electric carriage was the main topic. Charles 
L. Edgar, president of the Boston company, sat at 
Edison's right, and Samuel Insull at his left. The head 
of the Detroit company, Alex Dow, pointed at Ford 
and remarked: 

"There's a young fellow who has made a gas car." 

Somebody asked how the vehicle worked, and Ford 
described it. Edgar traded seats with him, so that Edison 
could hear what was said. He plied the Detroiter with 
questions, and Ford made sketches showing all the 
details of the gasoline car, including the contact ar- 
rangement for exploding the gas in the cylinder and the 
insulating plug with make-and-break mechanism, pro- 
totype of the spark plug of today. Edison, when the 
catechism ended, brought his fist down on the table 
with a bang. 

"Young man, that's the thing," he said. "You have 
it. Keep at it. Electric cars must keep near to power 
stations. The storage battery is too heavy. Steam cars 
won't do, either, for they require a boiler and a fire. 
Your car is self-contained carries its own power plant 
no fire, no boiler, no smoke, and no steam. You have 
the thing. Keep at it." 

"That bang on the table," wrote Ford later, "was 
worth worlds to me. No man up to then had given me 
any encouragement. I had hoped that I was headed 
right, sometimes I knew that I was, sometimes I only 
wondered if I was, but here all at once and out of a 
clear sky the greatest inventive genius in the world had 



22 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

given me a complete approval. The man who knew most 
about electricity in the world had said that for the 
purpose my gas motor was better than any electric 
motor could be." 

Even after Ford had built two cars, the scoffers of his 
home city were not impressed. The Edison Illuminating 
Company of Detroit offered to make him its general 
superintendent on condition that he would stop fooling 
with his gas engine and devote his time to useful work. 
That put squarely up to him the decision of his future 
course. He resigned his job in 1899 and went into the 
automobile business. 

Meanwhile, with a mine strike and the passage of the 
Dingley Tariff Law as preliminary episodes, good times 
began to replace depression in 1897, and within the year 
the Klondike gold rush started, the Turkish-Greek War 
was fought, the union of five counties into the City of 
Greater New York was effected, and Salomon August 
Andree set out from Sweden with two companions to 
drift his balloon over the North Pole, an exploit which 
remained a mystery of the Arctic until three bodies and 
the balloon's wreckage were found thirty-three years 
later. Our war with Spain was the big news of 1898, 
beginning with the breach of diplomatic relations in 
April, after public prejudice had been aroused to in- 
credible excess by an explosion that wrecked the battle- 
ship Maine in Havana harbor on February ijth. The 
Spaniards' Pacific fleet was destroyed by Admiral 
George Dewey's fighting ships on May ist, and Spain's 
debacle came when their Atlantic fleet under Cervera 
was annihilated off Santiago on July 3d, at the same 
time that the near-by land battles at San Juan Hill and 



THE BEGINNING OF AN INDUSTRY 2} 

1 Caney were making a hero and future President out 
of Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Roosevelt of the Rough 
Riders. 

On the day after the Santiago victory, July 4th, the 
North Atlantic Ocean witnessed a tragedy that focussed 
world-wide attention on the backwardness of science 
in providing safeguards against marine casualties. A 
French steamship of the first class, the Bourgogne, ran 
into the British sailing ship Cromarty shire. Five hun- 
dred and sixty lives were lost. Whatever so-called 
modern improvements the Bourgogne possessed were of 
no avail amid the waves and fog. The story of fragile 
bulkheads, inadequate lifeboats, and undisciplined crews 
stayed in the memory of the public, and resulted in a 
marked increase in the efforts of shipowners to protect 
their passengers although it remained for a greater 
disaster nearly two decades afterward to point the way 
toward a real measure of safety at sea. There had been, 
of course, thousands of ghastly accidents through the 
ages in which human knowledge was inadequate to 
cope with the elements. Back in 1893 tne liner Naronic 
started from Liverpool on her maiden voyage and dis- 
appeared without a trace; in 1894 the steamship Norge 
sank with 600 souls aboard; in every season ships large 
and small went to the bottom, with no wireless to call 
for help or to announce their helplessness. The sinking 
of the Bourgogne involved no greater loss of life than 
many another wreck, but the news of it horrified a 
generation which was beginning to believe its civiliza- 
tion an equal antagonist of Nature's forces. 

If there was one invention in which the public of 
that period did not believe, however, it was the "horse- 



24 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

less vehicle." There was no demand for practical 
automobiles when Henry Ford determined to manufac- 
ture them ; no faith in their future, no- financial backing 
for their few advocates. 

As an excuse for the public's lack of vision, it may 
be recalled that in those stirring years men were con- 
fronted with many happenings they could understand 
better than the gasoline engine. The South African War 
was bleeding Britain and killing off the Boers. We had 
a civil war of our own in the Philippines, where 
Aguinaldo would not stop rebelling against the new 
order. The Russian Czar called together a Universal 
Peace Conference, the first of its kind, at The Hague. 
The game of golf was gaining a foothold in this coun- 
try, though its devotees met with almost as much 
ridicule as did the motorcar pioneers. Diesel invented 
his oil motor in 1900, and the world's savants lamented 
the passing of Friedrich W. Nietzsche, of whom it has 
been said that no other man had more influence on 
modern thought. In the same year Galveston was devas- 
tated by a tidal flood; the Boxer uprising upset old 
China and caused armies to be rushed thither by the 
Western nations; William McKinley was reflected 
President, an assassin struck down King Humbert of 
Italy, and the Paris Exposition was opened. 

The next year, 1901, saw the end of Queen Victoria's 
reign and Edward VII on the British throne. Ex-Presi- 
dent Benjamin Harrison died, and the present Emperor 
Hirohito of Japan was born. Wall Street had a short 
panic when somebody cornered Northern Pacific stock. 
Theodore Roosevelt became President after McKinley 
was slain by an assassin at the Buffalo Exposition. As 



THE BEGINNING OF AN INDUSTRY 25 

the year came to a close, Marconi signaled the letter S 
across the ocean from England to Newfoundland, a 
preliminary to sending the first radio message oversea 
a few months later. 

With the new century under full steam ahead, seven 
of the states had got their highway departments going. 
Bicyclists by tens of thousands were on the roads, and 
a few racing motorcars. Henry Ford has said in his 
autobiography: 

When it was found that an automobile really could go 
and several makers started to put out cars, the immediate 
query was as to which would go fastest. It was a curious 
but natural development that racing idea. I never thought 
anything of racing, but the public refused to consider the 
automobile in any light other than as a fast toy. Therefore 
later we had to race. The industry was held back by this 
initial racing slant, for the attention of the makers was 
diverted to making fast rather than good cars. It was a 
business for speculators. 

As soon as he left the electric company, he gathered 
a group of men who were speculators enough to form 
the Detroit Automobile Company, in which he held a 
small part of the stock. He was the manager and chief 
engineer; in fact, he ran the concern, while the others 
waited for their profits. Few cars were sold, hardly any 
money was made, and just before the third birthday of 
the experiment Ford decided to resign and to be his 
own boss for the rest of his life. He rented a one-story 
brick shed and went on with his experiments in 1902, 
trying out engines and building improved models on 
the principle of his first car. 



26 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

It was in this period that he gave serious thought to 
the invention of tractors for the farmers, although 
fifteen years were to elapse before he put them on the 
market. In fact, the tractor idea had been in the back 
of his head since he became interested, as a young boy, 
in a clumsy road engine propelled by steam and used 
for operating sawmills and threshing machines. From 
the time he started making automobiles there was not 
a year in which he did not make experiments looking 
toward the tractor, but, as he has since remarked, "the 
public was more interested in being carried than in 
being pulled; the horseless carriage made a greater ap- 
peal to the imagination. And so it was that I practically 
dropped work upon a tractor until the automobile was 
in production. With the automobile on the farms, the 
tractor became a necessity. For then the farmers had 
been introduced to power." In after years, when he saw 
practical results multiply from his interest in agricul- 
tural machinery, he was to issue an order giving leaves 
of absence to those among his army of employees who 
wished to work their farms. 

While he was busy on a four-cylinder motor in his 
one-room shop in 1902, the racing mania grew. The 
track champion, Alexander Winton of Cleveland, Let it 
be known that he was ready to meet all comers. Ford 
designed a compact two-cylinder engine, fitted it on a 
skeleton chassis, made a few trial runs that proved the 
car could make speed, and arranged a meeting with 
Winton. They raced on the Grosse Point track, Detroit. 
Ford won. It was his first race, and he got a vast deal 
of advertising "of the only kind that people cared to 
read." 



THE BEGINNING OF AN INDUSTRY 27 

Two big racing cars were then produced in the little 
shop, with the assistance of Tom Cooper. They named 
one the 999 and the other the Arrow. The engines were 
nearly alike, and developed eighty horsepower. The 



i 




ONE OF FORD'S RACING CARS 

In his early years as a manufacturer, he attracted the public's 
attention by speed machines. 

cylinders roared with a deafening noise, and the in- 
ventor says he has never found words adequate for 
describing the sensation of himself and Cooper when 
they made their trials. 

They decided to enter 999 in p. race in 1903, but 
neither of them was willing to be the pilot. Cooper said 
he knew a bicycle rider who wasn't afraid. So they 



28 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

wired to Barney Oldfield, who came from Salt Lake 
City, looked over the motorcar, and said he would try 
anything once. He learned to drive in a week. While 
the preparations were being carried on with great 
secrecy, he managed to master the two-handed tiller 
with which the steering was done by sheer strength. 
The race was a three-mile affair on a track not properly 
banked, but Oldfield took the curves at full speed. At 
the end he won by half a mile in front of the second 
car. 

One week after the race the Ford Motor Company 
was formed, with Henry Ford as vice president, de- 
signer, master mechanic, superintendent, general man- 
ager, and holder of 25^ per cent of the $100,000 of 
capital stock, of which $28,000 was in cash. That was 
the only money the company ever received for the 
capital fund except from operations. A few years later 
the inventor acquired a 51 per cent control of the 
company. Then he bought up to 5 8 l /z per cent. It was 
not until 1919 that his son Edsel purchased all the re- 
mainder of the stock at $12,500 a share. 

The sport of motor racing, into which Ford had 
embarked merely to let people know he could make 
cars, had served its purpose so far as he was concerned, 
For the public it vied with the news of world affairs 
through the two years the inventor had been planning 
his new start in business. 

There were many excitements besides sports in the 
news of 1902 and 1903, however. In the first year 
Stribblefield invented the radio sending apparatus, 
Poulsen and Tessenden talked over their wireless tele- 
phone, Korn sent a photograph over the wires, and the 



THE BEGINNING OF AN INDUSTRY 29 

first radio message came across the Atlantic Ocean. 
Government activities were keyed to the high pitch 
that distinguished "T. R.'s" terms in the White House; 
the Panama Canal purchase was authorized, civil gov- 
ernment established in the Philippine Islands, the 
Northern Securities' Anti-Trust decision announced, 
the Cuban Republic inaugurated, the anthracite strike 
settled by Presidential intervention, Alfonso XIII en- 
throned in Spain at the age of eighteen after a long 
regency, the South African War ended, and 30,000 
lives snuffed out on the island of Martinique by the 
eruption of the Mt. Pelee volcano. Another event of 
1902, to be chronicled twenty-five years afterward in 
the halls of fame, was the birth of Charles A. Lind- 
bergh, Jr. 

While it would be impossible to find in the records 
of 1903 a happening that exerted more influence on 
the generation than the launching of the Ford industry, 
many other things caused a larger commotion at the 
time. The Department of Commerce and Labor was 
organized, the Pacific cable completed, the Alaska 
boundary dispute settled, and the Canal Treaty with 
Panama ratified. The Panamanian Republic's recogni- 
tion by this country aroused a controversy which is 
argued to this day, with proponents equally violent for 
and against "T. R.'s" connection with the Canal pur- 
chase and the ensuing revolution. The Iroquois Theatre 
fire in Chicago caused the loss of 602 lives. Overseas, the 
happenings of the year included the Kisheneff massacre 
and the election of Pope Pius X to succeed Leo XIII. 

The Wright brothers' achievement in the final month 
of 1903 will figure in history as one of the scientific 



30 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

triumphs of all time. There is a striking similarity be- 
tween their early struggles and the beginnings of Henry 
Ford. The world scoffed while Orville and Wilbur 
Wright quietly developed a heavier-than-air flying 
machine in Dayton, just as it ridiculed Ford's gasoline 
buggy. Nor did skepticism vanish when they took their 
frail craft to Kitty Hawk, N. C., and over the sandy 
beach realized a dream which had held the fancy of 
inventors for centuries, a sustained flight in an airplane 
carrying its own motive power. The flying machine, 
like the motorcar, was to be viewed as a racing toy for 
many a year. 

Meanwhile the safety bicycle, succeeding the old 
high-wheel affair, had become recognized as a practical 
and pleasant means of travel. More than three hundred 
factories were making bicycles in the United States. 
There were clubs of cyclists all over the world. The 
paraphernalia of "tripping," as the English would say, 
had to be compressed into tiny spaces on the "bike," but 
the handy kits of the early 'nineties were capacious 
enough to satisfy hordes of men and women. Vacations 
awheel were the rage. The hotels of the country and the 
roadside restaurants flourished. Quick journeys between 
towns a score or more miles apart were possible for the 
first time, for those who could not afford railway fares. 
The world's taste for travel had grown almost over- 
night an augury of the motorcar's triumph, though 
few besides Henry Ford sensed it. 

Of the venturesome associates whom he persuaded 
to join him in founding the Ford Motor Company, the 
first was a coal man, Malcolmson. Next came Couzens, 
a clerk in Malcolmson's office, now a United States 



THE BEGINNING OF AN INDUSTRY 31 

Senator; Gray, a manufacturing confectioner and 
friend of Malcolmson; the two Dodges, owners of a 
Detroit machine shop that agreed to make 650 motors 
for the new concern; Woodall, who was Malcolmson's 
bookkeeper; Fry, a bookkeeper; Bennett, an employee 
of a company making toy guns; Strelow, a carpenter 
who really believed in motorcars, and two lawyers, 
Rackham and Anderson. No bankers participated. The 
investors were the objects of much ridicule among their 
acquaintances. Except for Strelow, who sold his fifty 
shares before the company got well started and lost the 
proceeds in a mining venture, they had the last laugh. 
Before many years passed their profits would have made 
Aladdin envious. 

The company rented a carpenter shop in Mack Ave- 
nue, Detroit, where its equipment consisted of a few 
models of engines and cars and a little machinery. The 
plan was to buy from different manufacturers the 
engines, bodies, wheels, tires, and parts, and assemble 
the cars according to designs worked out by Ford. 
There was not enough cash on hand or in sight to start 
much of a manufacturing business. If the prices were 
right, it made no difference to Ford whether he con- 
structed or purchased, though, as it turned out in the 
ensuing years, the company gradually took on all the 
phases of the industry in order to produce at the lowest 
cost and to insure the uniform quality of materials. 

One of the most impressive aspects of the Ford 
development, from the very start, was the attitude of 
the inventor as distinguished from that of others who 
invested in motorcar enterprises. Most of them had no 
vision beyond the immediate profits from cars built for 



32 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

racing or for the diversion of the well-to-do; the auto- 
mobile was to be like an expensive bicycle, but with 
more speed and more space for baggage; the objective 
of the makers generally was to get as much money as 
the traffic would bear, without regard to durability 
which would cause the customer to buy other cars in 
the future. Ford, on the other hand, foresaw a market 
for 95 per cent of the population, with prices low and 
quality lasting. His basic idea of service, as contrasted 
to quick returns, was formulated before his manufac- 
turing amounted to anything. 

Business as it was run in those days and to a de- 
creasing extent in later years meant grabbing all the 
cash one could squeeze out of a customer, who there- 
after could go to the devil. Whether a motorcar would 
stand up, how much gasoline it needed, whether the 
parts could be replaced, were problems outside the 
concern of the manufacturer. It was in this atmosphere 
that Ford, practically alone, determined to build up an 
honest business, in which service would be the keynote 
and profits the result only of value received. That has 
been the motive behind the Ford car. To what extent 
it has influenced other lines of business, educating the 
buying public to protect itself from exploitation, is a 
question which can be answered by any thoughtful 
observer of industrial progress in the last four decades. 



Ill 

PERFORMANCE AND PROFITS 



HE BUSINESS OF THE COMPANY prospered as if by 
magic. While Ford expected profits, growing with the 
years, performance and permanence were the main aims 
in his policy. Other stockholders, under the spell of the 
current delusion that fickleness in public taste required 
frequent changes of design for motorcars, were able to 
make their influence felt in the few years when he 
lacked a controlling interest in the organization; but 
his domination of the technical side was such that he 
sacrificed his opinions only in superficial matters. Al- 
though he made many models and still entered cars in 
speed tests, he built each new automobile strong enough 
to last and as far as possible provided interchangeable 
parts, in order to keep the car in service as long as the 
buyer desired to use it, even long after other cars of the 
same vintage were ready for scrapping. 

In the first year of the Ford Motor Company, Model 
A made its appearance. It was priced at $850, but the 
lamps, horn, and windshield were extras. In form it was 
a sort of runabout. A tonneau could be lifted on to 
make it a touring car, and this elaborated shape sold 
for $950. The two cylinders developed 8 horsepower, 
the wheelbase was 72 inches, and the fuel capacity 5 
gallons. Sales for the year numbered 1,708 cars. 

The inventor has traced the history of these Model 

33 



34 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

A's. One of them, No. 420, typifies their ability to 
stand the test of time and hard usage. Colonel D. C. 
Collier of California, the purchaser, used it two years 
before getting another Ford. It changed hands several 
times and in 1907 was bought by a man living in the 
mountains, where he ran the car over the roughest of 
roads. He too sold his old Ford and got a new one. By 
1915 this Model A was owned by one Cantello, who 
took out the motor and connected it with a water 
pump, while the chassis was put into service as a buggy, 
drawn by a burro. 

"The moral, of course, is that you can dissect a Ford, 
but you cannot kill it," remarks the inventor in his 
autobiography. 

Primitive as the early cars seem to us today, the 
creations of the Ford Motor Company in its first years 
caused a vast boom in motoring. Though there had 
been an increase of passable rural roads for the bicy- 
clists' benefit, the hard surfacing of highways was in 
its infancy. Dust clouds assailed the tourist. The auto- 
mobile owner and his wife and children wore linen 
dusters, and the driver required goggles to keep his eye- 
sight equal to the strain of going twenty miles an hour. 
Acetylene lamps lighted the way at night. The car 
contained room for more baggage than a bicycle, but 
the space was occupied largely by tools, extra parts, and 
materials for patching tires. Women motorists wore 
veils, and some members of the traveling family kept 
a diary of the exciting journeys into neighboring coun- 
ties, recording the exact minutes of departure and 
arrival, the speed maintained, and the adventures along 



PERFORMANCE AND PROFITS 35 

the road. And there were adventures aplenty. Ripping 
off a disabled tire with a chisel was one frequent expe- 
rience. Crawling underneath the engine to make repairs 
was another. But automobiling was worth all the trou- 
ble it involved. 

Until the Ford idea permeated the country, motor 
vehicles had been for the rich. It was estimated that in 
1903 Americans spent $1,000,000 for foreign cars, and 
the sum trebled in two years. An embryo motor show 
in New York, about the time the Ford Company was 
formed, included four toy cars costing as little as $500. 
A real motor vehicle in those days brought from $1,000 
to $8,000; those below $2,000 were rickety affairs, and 
the more expensive ones were not much hardier. 

Ford never made an appeal to buyers who were 
merely on pleasure bent. While the owners of Ford cars 
probably got as much fun out of their travels as the 
idlest plutocrats, the argument which attracted them 
was the new selling appeal of service. The first adver- 
tisement of the company read: 

Our purpose is to construct and market an automobile 
specially designed for everyday wear and tear business, 
professional, and family use; an automobile which will at- 
tain to a sufficient speed to satisfy the average person with- 
out acquiring any of those break-neck velocities which are 
so universally condemned; a machine which will be admired 
by man, woman, and child alike for its compactness, its 
simplicity, its safety, its all-around convenience, and last 
but not least its exceedingly reasonable price, which places 
it within the reach of many thousands who could not think 
of paying the comparatively fabulous prices asked for most 
machines. 



36 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

The Ford salesmen were taught to emphasize the 
good materials used in making the cars, the simplicity 
of operation, the engine, the ignition, the automatic 
oiling, the planetary transmission, and the workman- 
ship. 

One advertisement included the following descrip- 
tion of the new car: 

We often hear quoted the old proverb, "Time is Money" 
and yet how few business and professional men act as if 
they really believed its truth. 

Men who are constantly complaining of shortage of time 
and lamenting the fewness of days in the week men to 
whom every five minutes wasted means a dollar thrown 
away men to whom five minutes' delay sometimes means 
the loss of many dollars will yet depend on the hap- 
hazard, uncomfortable, and limited means of transporta- 
tion afforded by street cars, etc., when the investment of 
an exceedingly moderate sum in the purchase of a perfected, 
efficient, high-grade automobile would cut out anxiety and 
unpunctuality and provide a luxurious means of travel ever 
at your beck and call. 

Always ready, always sure. 

Built to save you time and consequent money. 

Built to take you anywhere you want to go and bring 
you back again on time. 

Built to add to your reputation for punctuality; to keep 
your customers good-humored and in a buying mood. 

Built for business or pleasure just as you say. 

Built also for the good of your health to carry you 
"jarlessly" over any kind of half-decent roads, to refresh 
your brain with the luxury of much "outdoorness" and 
your lungs with the "tonic of tonics" the right kind of 
atmosphere. 



PERFORMANCE AND PROFITS 37 

It is your say, too, when it comes to speed. You can if 
you choose loiter lingeringly through shady avenues or 
you can press down on the foot-lever until all the scenery 
looks alike to you and you have to keep your eyes skinned 
to count the milestones as they pass. 

Before the company was making enough money to 
carry on scientific investigations as to the finest and 
lightest materials, but was getting the best the market 
afforded, the reputation of the efficient low-priced car 
increased rapidly. The frontiers of states and counties 
were swept away. The touring habit spread over the 
land. It has been often said that Ford and his associates 
taught Americans to know America. That truism need 
not be confined to America. Soon the influence of their 
pioneering extended over the world. 

In the second year the company offered three models. 
They were lettered B, C, and F: a four-cylinder touring 
car, for $2,000; a slightly improved Model A, at a price 
$50 above its prototype, and a touring car for $1,000. 
The result of scattered energies and higher prices was 
a decrease in sales from 1,706 to 1,695 cars - This fur- 
nished a lesson from which the inventor eventually 
profited. 

If there had been statistics showing popular interest 
in news events, the progress of the Ford idea would 
have made a big showing in the figures. Yet the news 
of the period, in which tc T. R.'s" glamorous personality 
dominated the political field, was by no means confined 
to science or invention. In the year 1904 Russia and 
Japan went to war, the St. Louis exposition opened, the 
business section of Baltimore was devastated by fire, 
and the first New York subway was completed. A train 



38 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

on the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad made a speed 
record of 115.20 miles an hour for a distance of 4.8 
miles. Franklin D. Roosevelt finished his course at Har- 
vard. One of the most gruesome disasters of our times, 
the burning of the steamboat General Slocum on the 
East River at New York, cost the lives of 1,021 holiday 
picnickers, mostly children. 

The happening of most influence on Henry Ford's 
plans was the organization of the United States Office 
of Public Roads, which, succeeding the old Office of 
Road Inquiry, ordered a census of the nation's high- 
ways. This showed 2,151,590 miles of rural roads, of 
which 153,662 miles were surfaced with materials then 
regarded as satisfactory. Coincidental with Models B, 
C, and F, the country was showing real interest in good 
roads, though modern concrete was yet a substance with 
which, only small experiments had been made; the only 
pavings of that material were laid in four or five scat- 
tered towns. The total expenditures of the year 1904 
on country highways was $79,595,418, hardly one 
twentieth of the annual outlay a quarter of a century 
later. 

Model B was the first four-cylinder car for general 
road use. Deciding that racing victories were still the 
best advertising, Ford remade his old Arrow, and a 
week before the New York Automobile Show he drove 
it a mile straightaway on the ice, in 39 2/5 seconds. 
When he got under way, he discovered that the frozen 
course was seamed with fissures, each of which sent the 
car leaping into the air. Every time it leaped, he won- 
dered if he would come down right side up. Between 
leaps he skidded this way and that. Finally the mile was 



PERFORMANCE AND PROFITS 39 

covered, in record time that made news the world over. 
Model B became famous. Yet, as Ford has since pointed 
out, no amount of stunt racing or advertising could 
overcome price advances. Gradually he was being edu- 
cated in the business of making the motorcar a more 
paying product by lowering its cost. 

The jokesters of the press, meanwhile, were not yet 
silenced, and even in serious editorials the automobile 
continued to be an object of attack. The "devil wagon," 
as it was called by the scoffers, was depicted as a symbol 
of snobbery. Not only were the poor farmer's cows and 
chickens its victims, but gloomy prophets predicted 
great loss of human life unless the racers were curbed. 
At best they described the nuisance of gasoline fumes 
and hideous noises as the average man's penalty for 
allowing the rich to possess such toys. That this sort 
of gibing soon ceased was due to Ford's rapid success 
in turning the critics into enthusiastic owners and 
drivers. 

In 1905 and 1906 he made only two models, a four- 
cylinder car at $2,000 and another touring car at 
$1,000. Again there was a drop in sales, to 1,599. It 
was now that Ford took matters into his own hands, 
acquiring control of the company's stock and outvot- 
ing his partners for the first time. The wooden car- 
penter shop was superseded by a three-story plant, 
giving him real manufacturing facilities. In 1906-07 
touring cars were abandoned and three runabouts built. 
They differed little from the previous models, though 
they looked different. The cheapest was sold for $600, 
the most expensive for $750. Sales jumped to 8,423. 
Turning back to the touring shape in the next year, 



40 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

the inventor designed a fast six-cylinder fifty-horse- 
power car, but continued to produce the low-priced 
models. Sales dropped. Ford was convinced that the 
decrease was due to the more expensive model as well 
as to the business panic of 1907. He decided not to 
experiment with high-priced cars again. Nor did he 
enter the six-cylinder field again. 

The try-outs of the early years had run the gamut 
of Ford's experience and imagination. The cars he de- 
signed had ranged in horsepower from eight to forty; 
they had been built with two, four, and six cylinders, 
and minor changes in construction had been innumer- 
able. "The only thing in the world that never changes 
is change itself," said the manufacturer, paraphrasing 
an old epigram. By 1908 he had sold eight models and 
constructed eleven others which were not put on the 
market. 

Meanwhile, the world moved forward more rapidly 
than was its wont before men grew motor-wise. Re- 
mote regions joined in the demand for good roads. 
The Japanese humiliated Russia in 1905, ending the 
war with the capture of Port Arthur; Norway broke 
her union with Sweden; an investigation of the insur- 
ance companies brought into public notice a rising New 
York lawyer, Charles E. Hughes, now Chief Justice of 
the United States Supreme Court; Joseph Jefferson and 
Sir Henry Irving died; Greta Garbo was born. In the 
next year, 1906, earthquake and fire almost destroyed 
San Francisco, after quakes had killed thousands in 
Japan's outlying island of Formosa; the United States 
occupied Cuba for a second time; Hendrik Ibsen died, 
and the year's births included Emperor Henry Pu Yi of 



PERFORMANCE AND PROFITS 41 

China and Manchukuo, and Joan Crawford of movie- 
dom. In 1907 the popularity of concrete city paving 
made its first real stride, on three streets in Chicago, one 
in New Haven and one in Salt Lake City; Lee de Forest 
invented the vacuum radio tube; the United States 




Model K the only six-cylinder Ford car. 

fleet was ordered by "T. R." to make a voyage around 
the world; Oklahoma became a state; the Federal Pure 
Food Law went into effect; Gustav V became King of 
Sweden; the American stage lost its foremost actor, 
Richard Mansfield. 

Henry Ford, having confirmed his belief that the 
increase of aggregate profits was in direct proportion 
to the smallness of the profit on each car, was getting 
ready for mass production. 

A sales organization, carefully expanded each year, 
was working full speed. At first it had been hard to 



42 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

find good salesmen. The men who could sell were wary 
about entering what was considered an unstable busi- 
ness. Ford gradually perfected his selling force by 
selecting able men and offering them larger salaries 
than they could earn in business for themselves. As he 
recalled later: 



In the beginning we had not paid much in the way of 
salaries. We were feeling our way, but when we knew what 
our way was, we adopted the policy of paying the very 
highest reward for service and then insisting upon getting 
the highest service. 

Besides the sales agents' energy and initiative, a clean 
and suitable place of business was demanded. A suffi- 
cient supply of parts had to be on hand to keep in 
active service all Ford cars in the representative's terri- 
tory, and he must have an adequate repair shop, with 
mechanics thoroughly familiar with the construction 
and operation of the cars. Every agent undertook to do 
proper bookkeeping and to maintain a follow-up sales 
system and records of his customers present or pros- 
pective; to see that no dirty windows or floors marred 
his showroom, to display a suitable sign outside, and to 
cultivate a reputation for square dealing. 

While Ford was working against odds both in the 
manufacturing and sales ends, the famous Selden patent 
suit was a sore trial, though eventually it resulted in 
some of the best advertising he ever had. The suit was 
an attempt to force him into line with an association 
of automobile manufacturers operating under the belief 
that there was only a limited market for motorcars and 



PERFORMANCE AND PROFITS 43 

that a monopoly of the market was necessary. George 
B. Selden himself had little to do with the action. 

Back in 1879, Selden, who was a patent attorney, 
filed an application for a patent with the stated object 
of producing "a safe, simple, and cheap road locomo- 
tive, light in weight, easy to control, possessed of suffi- 
cient power to overcome ordinary inclination." The 
patent was granted in 1895. In the interval Selden had 
done nothing to put his idea into practice, while several 
inventors had developed vehicles propelled by motors. 

A group of manufacturers, acquiring a "license" to 
use the Selden patent, brought suit against the Ford 
Company as soon as it began to make a success of 
motorcar production. In 1909, after volumes had been 
filled with testimony, Judge Hough of the United 
States District Court rendered a decision in favor of 
the "licensed manufacturers," whose association at once 
advertised a warning to prospective Ford buyers. This 
they had also done at the beginning of the suit, in 
1903. 

Ford, who was confident the Hough decision would 
not stand, proceeded to reassure his customers. They 
were being told, he learned, that every owner of a Ford 
car would be prosecuted if the suit was finally won by 
the allied manufacturers, and even that they might 
be sent to jail! An advertisement to counteract this 
propaganda was published promptly. It ended as fol- 
lows: 

In conclusion we beg to state if there are any prospective 
automobile buyers who are at all intimidated by the claims 
made by our adversaries that we will give them, in addition 



44 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

to the protection of the Ford Motor Company with its 
some $6,000,000.00 of assets, an individual bond backed 
by a Company of more than $6,000,000.00 more of assets, 
so that each and every individual owner of a Ford car will 
be protected until at least $12,000,000.00 of assets have 
been wiped out by those who desire to control and monop- 
olize this wonderful industry. 

The bond is yours for the asking, so do not allow your- 
self to be sold inferior cars at extravagant prices because of 
any statement made by this "Divine" body. 

N.B. This fight is not being waged by the Ford Motor 
Company without the advice and counsel of the ablest 
patent attorneys of the East and West. 

Only about fifty car buyers asked for the bond, 
although more than eighteen thousand cars were sold 
that year. The public's sympathy was on Ford's side. 
His company was being attacked by a combination 
with resources of seventy million dollars, whereas it 
had at the beginning not half that number of thou- 
sands. 

In spite of the suit, which still was to drag on for a 
long time before the association lost out, the year 1908 
found Ford with plenty of experience and enough 
money to go ahead with his ambitious plans. 

He had toyed for years with the thought of a strong 
car so cheap that well-nigh everybody could afford to 
buy it. To concentrate on one model, the best he could 
devise, and with it to tap the vast market as yet un- 
touched, now became his goal. His partners thought 
he had gone mad. His salesmen, though less vocal, had 
the same opinion. Nobody could understand why he 
was willing to abandon the enormous profits the com- 



PERFORMANCE AND PROFITS 



45 







A small Ford village industry. Operated by water power. 



IBN-MILLS 




A country flour mill turned into a Ford village industry. 
Operated by water power. 



46 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

pany had been piling up: two million dollars in five 
years, an increase of ten thousand per cent for the 
original investors! Why not go ahead on the old line, 
they pleaded, erect a fine administration building and a 
big plant, and let the millions accumulate? But their 
laments had no effect on the man who was now the 
boss. 

Three years previously, in 1905, a year before he 
acquired control of the company's stock and three years 
before he made his final plunge away from old methods, 
there had been a great motor race on Long Island for 
the Vanderbilt Cup. Among the spectators was Ford. 
He was looking at the wreckage of a French car when 
he made a discovery destined to influence his whole 
career. With the thought that the foreign engines had 
better parts than those of American make, he picked 
up a valve strip stem from the tangle of metal. What 
was the material that made this part so strong and yet 
so light? Nobody could tell him. Giving the stem to an 
assistant, he told him to find out all about it. 

Discovering that it was made of a French steel con- 
taining vanadium, he made inquiries of all the steel 
makers in America, but was informed that not one 
could turn out vanadium steel. An expert was im- 
ported from England, and a small company in Ohio 
undertook to run a furnace with 3,000 degrees of heat 
requisite for manufacturing the material, provided Ford 
would guarantee it against loss. The first test was a 
failure, but finally he got his vanadium steel of 170,000 
pounds tensile strength, an increase from the 60,000 to 
70,000 pounds strength hitherto regarded as a maxi- 
mum. Thereupon he had his models torn to pieces and 



PERFORMANCE AND PROFITS 47 

tested every part to see what sort of steel was best for 
each a hard steel, or a tough steel, or an elastic steel. 
Of the twenty types of steel selected, ten contained 
vanadium, which was used wherever strength and light- 
ness were needed. Not all the ten had the same amount 
of vanadium. The composition varied according to 
whether the parts required spring or must stand hard 
wear. 

The experiments with vanadium were epochal in 
automobile construction, for previously not more than 
four different grades of steel had been used in cars. 
Ford continued his tests in later years, always aiming 
at a further increase in strength and a decrease in 
weight. He often said of his proposed "universal car" 
that it must be strong, light, and foolproof, and a 
slogan he adopted was, "When one of my cars breaks 
down I know I am to blame." 

The banner week of the Ford Motor Company in the 
five trial years was the second week of May, 1908. 
In the small factory 311 cars were finished in six days. 
On a single day in the following June 100 cars were 
assembled. Ford was set to build what he announced 
as the "universal car." 

Mass production was not a new term in 1908. Years 
previously there had been machine-made steel parts, 
typewriters, bicycles, boots, cloth patterns, and what 
not. But to standardize the machine manufacture of a 
complex automobile, with its five thousand parts, was 
regarded as impossible. How could machines be devised 
to manufacture the multitude of variously shaped parts 
made of metals, leather, glass, and wood needed for 



48 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

even the smallest motorcar? Yet that was just what 
Ford determined to do. 

His conception of the word "standardization," how- 
ever, was based on the assumption that a vast majority 
of the buying public, say 95 per cent, would continue 
to purchase an article only when convinced that its 
quality was the best obtainable at the price quoted. 
He knew that too often manufacturers looked upon 
standardization as a system of making something to 
sell at a high price without regard to quality, with the 
result that their market became flooded with goods no- 
body would buy. It was his opinion then, and still is, 
that buying power always exists when the price is right. 
Merely to cut prices does not make an article worth 
buying. The customers must be "shown." Prove to them 
that a manufacturer habitually gives the best values, 
and they remain his patrons. The Ford car in all its 
phases has benefited from public confidence. Its stand- 
ardization has involved constant reductions of price as 
frequently as economies at the factories made a lower 
price possible. 

"The price has to be reduced," explains Ford, "be- 
cause of the manufacturing economies that have come 
about, and not because the falling demand by the 
public indicates that it is not satisfied with the price. 
The public should always be wondering how it is pos- 
sible to give so much for the money." 

So he embarked upon the great adventure of the 
"universal car." He was going to his ruin, predicted 
his competitors perhaps not without satisfaction. His 
stockholders figuratively tore their hair and tried in 
vain to stop him. 



IV 

THE "UNIVERSAL CAR," MODEL T 



A 



MONTH BEFORE WILLIAM H. TAFT Was elected 

President of the United States, in the autumn of 1908, 
Henry Ford offered for sale an automobile the like of 
which had not been seen, nor imagined except by its 
maker, since the motor industry came into being. Model 
T, the "universal car," defied the traditions of the other 
pioneers, violated their prejudices against simplicity and 
economy in automobiles, and started on its long career 
amid the gibes of the manufacturing world. 

Simplicity was the chief trait of the new model. The 
engine, frame, and axles were easily accessible, and no 
mechanical genius was needed for mending or replace- 
ments. Most of the parts cost so little that buying new 
ones was more economical than repairing them. The 
important features had all been tested in one or another 
of the inventor's previous models. The price of the 
touring car was $850, and there were a town car for 
$1,000, a roadster for $825, a coupe for $950, and a 
landaulet for $950. Each variation was a simple Model 
T with no frills. In the first year 10,607 cars were 
sold, breaking all records in the industry. 

In the next eighteen years this plain rival of the 
ornate vehicles hitherto characteristic of the automo- 
bile market was to revolutionize road transportation. 
The calamitous events of the period passed unheeded by 

49 



50 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Model T. The Ford evolution, leaving all competitors 
behind, proceeded without a reverse through nearly two 
decades in which the world turned topsy-turvy. The 
Woodrow Wilson tide rose and fell. War wrecked Eu- 
rope. Governments were overthrown, customs uprooted, 
beliefs of the older generation cast aside. The United 
States, dragged into the conflict, emerged in a condition 
of hysteria which was reflected in a revival of political 
conservatism, extreme changes in manners, and a 
nation-wide nervousness over the "Red menace" that 
Bolshevist influence was supposed to impose upon us. 
But there was no halt during those years in the advance 
of industry, in which Ford's mass production was the 
dominant force. 

Contemporaneous developments in science and busi- 
ness included the radio and the airplane. The motion- 
picture craze, already well under way, reached a climax 
in a national censorship. Peace movements resulting 
from the long war occupied the attention of the 
thoughtful but had little effect on the multitude, intent 
upon resuming its interrupted routine. For the first 
time science and mechanics took precedence over the 
study of classics in our schools and colleges, indicating 
that the war had turned men's minds from the cultural 
to the practical. 

A coincidence of 1908 was the fact that the first mile 
of rural concrete road was completed in Wayne County, 
Michigan, about the same time Ford announced his 
Model T in that county. Good roads and the motorcar 
were to grow in popularity thenceforth, each a comple- 
ment to the other. The year was notable for the 
earthquake disaster in Sicily and Calabria, causing the 



THE UNIVERSAL CAR, MODEL T 51 

loss of 76,000 lives and wrecking the city of Messina; 
the assassination of the Portuguese King, Carlos, and 
the death of ex-President Grover Cleveland. 

The ways of the world had changed fast in the space 
of a lifetime. With America crisscrossed by railroads, 
cities in constant communication by telegraph and 




The first Model T, 



telephone, every town "covered" by its newspaper be- 
longing to one of the two great news associations, and 
the building of surfaced roads at last regarded as a 
necessity, the public was ready for whatever innova- 
tion would increase the compactness of the country. 
In the next five years Ford was to put half a million 
Model T's on the road and assemble them at the rate 
of 800 a day in his Highland Park plant near Detroit. 
It was in 1909 that he formally announced his policy 
of uniformity, although no year passed without changes 



52 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

in the details of Model T's construction, which re- 
mained its unadorned self in exterior appearance. Model 
T was in constant evolution before "yearly models" 
seized the industry. 

A few more miles of concrete roads were built in 
1909, a year of famous achievements. Peary reached the 
North Pole in the spring. The Payne-Aldrich tariff bill 
was enacted. Scott and Shackleton got started on their 
Antarctic expeditions. Albert I became King of the 
Belgians. Louis Bleriot flew over the English Channel 
in an airplane, from Calais to Dover. The first use of 
the wireless telegraph to save lives at sea thrilled the 
civilized world when the steamship Republic sank after 
crashing into the Florida off Nantucket Island; only six 
deaths resulted; answering the C Q D signal from 
Jack Binns, the Republic's wireless operator, the Baltic 
and other vessels raced to the scene of the wreck and 
flashed the news over the Seven Seas. While the ensuing 
year saw a feverish increase in automobile sales, news 
from the nation's capital included the establishment of 
the Commerce Court and the Postal Savings Banks, and 
the accession of Edward D. White as Chief Justice 
of the United States Supreme Court. In Europe the 
kingdom of Portugal was replaced by a republic after 
autocratic rule for 800 years, and Edward VII was 
succeeded by George V as King of England. The year 
1911, when the Ford Motor Company got its real start 
in England by selling 14,000 cars after several seasons 
of ineffectual efforts to gain a foothold, was marked by 
the Supreme Court decisions dissolving the Standard 
Oil and American Tobacco Companies. That was the 
climax of the "trust-busting" era. Late in the year the 



THE UNIVERSAL CAR, MODEL T 53 

phenomenon of Woodrow Wilson, the New Dealer of 
his day, began to impress political wiseacres, though the 
rank and file did not yet foresee the upset which was 
impending in our national government. In China the 
Manchu Dynasty was overthrown and a republic pro- 
claimed. The Italian-Turkish War began. C. P. Rogers 
made the first transcontinental air flight, in the actual 
flying time of 84 hours and 2 minutes. Amundsen dis- 
covered the South Pole a fortnight before the year 
ended, to be followed a month later by Scott, who lost 
his life on the return trip toward his base. 

Besides witnessing the Bull Moose movement and the 
election of Wilson to the Presidency over Taft and 
Theodore Roosevelt, the year 1912 found the two new 
states of Arizona and New Mexico admitted to the 
Union. A Balkan war, forerunner of the World War, 
caused no alarm over here. State and local highway 
authorities generally became interested in concrete, 
which now surfaced a total of two hundred and fifty 
miles of rural roads. The beginning of the country's 
motor-bus network resulted from the revolution in 
Mexico, when an American miner, A. L. Hayes, fleeing 
across the border to California, decided to make a living 
by hauling passengers from San Diego to near-by 
towns; he rented a second-hand car, soon had a small 
fleet of them, and established the Pickwick Line, later 
absorbed by the Greyhound System. 

On the night of April 14-15, 1912, occurred the 
most sensational marine disaster of modern times, the 
sinking of the Titanic. Heralded as the perfect steam- 
ship, with safety bulkheads and every other safeguard 
science could suggest to make her "unsinkable," the 



54 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

ocean giant carried more than 2,000 passengers, of 
whom 1,517 perished, including 103 women and 53 
children. Speeding through waters dotted with icebergs, 
regardless of wireless warnings of the danger, the 
Titanic felt a dull thud that was hardly noticed at first 
by the joyous throng in the ballroom and the early 
sleepers in their staterooms. The orchestra played. Men 
and women sat undisturbed at the card tables. The last 
night of the voyage, with New York less than a day 
away, was a night of revelry for the cabin contingent. 
Only in the forward steerage, down by the water line, 
was there evidence of the fatal gash which a jagged 
knife of ice had cut in the vessel's side. 

Slowly the water poured in, through bulkheads that 
could not be closed. An hour passed before even the 
ship's officers realized that the "unsinkable" Titanic was 
mortally wounded. The orchestra played on. Lifeboats, 
of which too few had been provided, were launched 
with half as many passengers as they should have held. 
Still nobody believed the vessel was sinking. "See you 
at breakfast," a man shouted from the promenade deck 
to a woman in one of the boats. After panic seized 
the steerage, laughter still echoed through the cabin 
saloons. It was long past midnight when the mighty 
liner began to list, and as the lifeboats pulled away the 
orchestra played "Nearer, My God, to Thee." The ship 
trembled, turned slowly on her side, and disappeared, 
dragging down those who had not leaped overboard in 
the last moments. A very few were picked up by life- 
boats, most of which were too far off to attempt rescues 
or too fearful to take the risk. An unruffled sea, with 
only a bit of ship's furniture and wreckage here and 



THE "UNIVERSAL CAR," MODEL T 55 

there, gave no answer to the cries of the drowning or 
the groans of the living. As the first tinge of dawn 
lightened the scene, a gigantic iceberg floated majes- 
tically out of view beyond the horizon. 

Meanwhile, amid the excitements of political up- 
heaval and disasters and crimes, the advance of industry 




' . **.,- 



A foreign plant Cologne, Germany. 

had been uninterrupted. The keynote of that progress, 
as economists and manufacturers came to realize, was 
mass production, with Ford leading the way. 

He had replaced his Piquette Avenue plant, in De- 
troit, with the Highland Park plant, covering sixty 
acres. Car prices were raised a trifle in 1909 and 1910 
to pay for this, the largest automobile factory in the 
world. At the higher prices he sold 18,664 cars in a 
year. Then he reduced the touring car to $780 and sold 
34,528. Lowering prices whenever possible, raising them 
only when necessary, was the Ford watchword. The 
business had spread afar, with branches in London and 
Australia and shipments to every quarter of the globe. 



56 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Manufacturing methods had improved steadily, owing 
to constant experimenting, and to the discovery of new 
and better ways to make the thousands of parts of 
Model T. (The present Ford V-8 has 15,000 parts.) 
What was needed in the new plant was a system by 
which mass production would proceed at the highest 
speed, with the maximum of order and coordination in 
an army of workmen. 

Gradually the assembly line, the basis of economical 
production in the Ford plants, grew into an institution. 
It is now imitated in all the large manufacturing indus- 
tries of the world, though the imitators have not always 
echoed Ford's insistence that mass production must be 
"flexible," with unceasing reduction of costs in order 
to sell goods for lower prices. 

To take the work to the men, rather than the men 
to the work, was the basic idea of the assembly line. 
Heretofore workers had fallen over each other as they 
searched for tools and materials. Ford had been attack- 
ing by degrees the every-fellow-for-himself relic of 
factory traditions. He now formulated his ideas for 
putting an end to haphazard methods. First, he speci- 
fied, all tools and men should be in the sequence of 
the operation, so that each part or material would travel 
the least distance in the finishing processes. Second, 
mechanical carriers must be provided, upon which each 
workman would drop a completed part, to be carried 
to the next man for his operation. Third, sliding assem- 
bly lines should deliver the parts at convenient dis- 
tances. One movement for one man, a reduction of the 
necessity of thought and of unnecessary movements by 
the workers, was the aim of the new system. 



THE "UNIVERSAL CAR," MODEL T 57 

To an observer untrained in technicalities, a group 
of assembly lines is something like a network of rail- 
ways, with the various branches feeding the main 
division. Along moving platforms and carriers travel 
processions of parts. The workmen stand at their ap- 
pointed places, each with his one job, ranging from 
the placing of a tiny bolt to the fitting of a completed 
body on the chassis. Piece by piece the car grows until 
it passes off the final line under its own power. Each 
year brings improvements, saving a minute's time or a 
cent's cost, in the assembly line. In the Ford factory 
invention never ceases. If there is one tradition in this 
organization which does not believe in traditions, says 
the founder, it may be phrased as follows: 

"Everything can always be done better than it is 
being done." 

The origin of the assembly line at Highland Park, 
involving years of tests, illustrates the Ford method of 
moving forward. The initial experiment, in the spring 
of 1913, was made in assembling the flywheel magneto. 
It was a small experiment. Every novelty is tested by 
Ford in a small way, to make sure that the new method 
is better than the old. The general idea of the assembly 
line had come from the overhead trolley used by 
Chicago packers in dressing beef, but that was a simple 
mechanism by comparison with what the motor maker 
had in mind. 

Having demonstrated in the next twelve months that 
the flywheel magneto could be assembled by a group 
of men in 13 minutes and 10 seconds, instead of the 
20 minutes used by a single workman, Ford installed 
new lines for one operation after another. Soon he was 



58 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

moving the chassis down a track 250 feet long, draw- 
ing it along with a rope and windlass. Six men walked 
beside it, picking up parts from piles placed at inter- 
vals. The time of assembling the chassis was soon 
reduced from 12 hours and 8 minutes to 5 hours and 
50 minutes. The height of the moving line was fixed 
at average waist level after many experiments. The 
speeds at which different lines traveled were changed 
until each workman had exactly the time he needed 
for his assigned task not a second too much time nor 
a second too little. Finally the whole car was assembled 
by the same system. 

In due course every line was mechanically driven. 
The workmen who attached screws, bolts, and nuts, or 
put on wheels, hub caps, and mudguards, or poured 
gasoline into the finished engine, or fastened the body 
to the chassis, stayed at their appointed places and re- 
ceived their parts from the department of transporta- 
tion established for the purpose. No worker on the line 
moved or lifted anything; the thing he had to handle 
was brought to him and placed where he could pick 
it up without a wasted motion or a lost moment. 

The idea of the assembly lines has not changed since 
1914, though uncounted economies and accelerations 
have brought them nearer and nearer to perfection. 
Long ago the company duplicated the system in its 
plants scattered over the world; today River Rouge, 
successor of the Highland Park factory, turns out com- 
plete cars only for the Detroit district, though still 
making most of the parts shipped to the branch assem- 
bly plants. 

How the new method saves time and money is shown 



THE "UNIVERSAL CAR," MODEL T 59 

by the connecting-rod assembly, a tiny operation which 
required only about three minutes under the old system. 
Twenty-eight men used to sit at 2 benches, assembling 
175 connecting rods in 9 hours. The foreman made a 
study of the workers' procedure with a stop-watch and 
found that they spent 4 hours in walking. He tried 
dividing the group into 3 divisions, placing a slide on a 
bench, 3 men at each side, and an inspector at the end. 
One man now performed only that part of the opera- 
tion he could finish without shifting his feet. The squad 
was cut from 28 to 14, and a few years afterward to 7 
men, who complete 2,600 assemblies in 8 hours. And as 
the number of men on each operation decreased, the 
number of men employed in the plant increased. 
Manufacturing economies resulted in larger business 
which in turn required more men. 

Hand operations ceased long ago in the Ford plants 
wherever a machine could be made automatic, although 
only about 10 per cent of the tools are specially designed 
and the others are regular machines adjusted to their 
special jobs. 

Ford does not believe in titles or fixed authority. Any 
worker may go over the head of his immediate boss 
with suggestions or complaints, but the privilege is not 
often used as the foremen know that justice is a 
requisite for holding their places. When a man is hired, 
nobody asks him for a testimonial; he may have a 
prison record, for all Ford cares. The only thing that 
matters is his fitness for work. To keep his job he must 
work, and promotion is at hand for those who can do 
especially well what they have to do. The men in im- 
portant posts in another company they would be 



60 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

called by this or that imposing title have risen from 
the bottom; but Ford has said that a small percentage 
of wage-earners take advantage of opportunities to rise 
into higher positions, as most of them avoid the added 
labor and responsibilities which promotion entails. He 
has found that he always needs men who are able and 
willing to take difficult jobs, while the majority prefer 
work of the repetitive kind afforded by the assembly 
line, doing the same thing over and over, day after 
day. The opportunities for men of extra intelligence 
and skill have increased with each year's improvement 
in machines; inventive genius continues to provide 
machines which can do jobs better than human hands 
can accomplish similar results. 

Answering the critics who say that monotony in a 
worker's movements is injurious to health, the manu- 
facturer cites the case of one man who spent his days 
stepping on a treadle release. He underwent a physical 
examination to show whether he was becoming one- 
sided, learned that he was not, and yet was shifted to 
another job. Soon he asked that he be returned to his 
old place. Frequent inquiries by doctors in the Ford 
plants have failed to show any bodily abnormality 
caused by repetitive motions. When the men ask to be 
shifted to another kind of work, they are moved as soon 
as possible. For the most part they resist transfers. 

Among the thousands of jobs, nearly half can be 
filled by persons of no great physical strength or 
stamina; many are held by cripples, and a few by blind 
men. The employment department decides where to use 
an applicant, whose course thereafter depends on him- 
self. There have even been experiments with bedridden 



THE "UNIVERSAL CAR," MODEL T 61 

men, who in their periods of recuperation from acci- 
dent or illness screw enough nuts on small bolts to earn 
their full wages before leaving the hospital. Their 
production has been actually above the shop average. 
None of them was required to do the work. They asked 
for it and seemed to recover more rapidly because they 
were busy. 

Cleanliness, ventilation, and plenty of light are 
requisites of a Ford plant, where the machines, though 
placed closer together than in other factories, are ar- 
ranged scientifically so as to give a worker exactly the 
space he needs. Every machine must be safe. Accidents 
are few, but after each one there is an inquiry as to 
methods to prevent that mishap from happening again. 
The Ford ideal is to make all machines foolproof. No 
new contrivance is installed until it is thoroughly 
tested. 

While the assembly line was having its genesis, in 
1913, this country was entering upon a vital period. 
A Democratic Administration moved into Washington, 
with advanced notions of running human affairs, after 
long years of conservative leadership. In Mexico a new 
President, Francesco I. Madero, was assassinated. Events 
in Europe were shaping themselves for the war crisis, 
though nobody yet realized it, least of all those who 
attended the dedication of the Peace Palace at The 
Hague. Raymond Poincare, who was to hold his post 
through the war, became President of France. The 
death of J. Pierpont Morgan the elder and the pre- 
liminaries of founding the new Federal Reserve banking 
system, under Wilson's guidance, were the year's mile- 
stones in financial circles. 



62 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Not yet could it be said that Henry Ford was known 
throughout America. He had, of course, the attention 
of the automobile industry, which had undergone the 
painful experience of watching him disprove its maxims 
and scorn its extravagances, and he was doubtless ap- 
praised as a deliverer by thoughtful persons among half 
a million Model T owners, now able to explore far 
places instead of staying at home. Among manufac- 
turers, in so far as his methods were discussed, he was 
regarded with curiosity, even suspicion. But only in his 
own neighborhood and among the few who studied his 
activities at close range was he looked upon as a national 
leader in business. Probably the greatest glare of pub- 
licity he had ever attracted was the advertising he 
sought deliberately in his racing years, when an unbe- 
lieving public refused to consider motorcars as service- 
able vehicles and was interested in them only as speed 
machines. At the end of 1913 there were certainly 
many Americans who had never heard of Ford. 

One week later his name was a household word. On 
January 5, 1914, came the announcement that the Ford 
Motor Company would pay a minimum wage of $5.00 
a day, increasing the workers' average pay from $2.40. 
At the same time the day's work was cut from 9 to 8 
hours. In later years the minimum wage was to be raised 
to $6.00 then $7.00, and no reduction was ordered until 
1931, when worldwide depression made the higher rates 
impossible. 

The commotion caused in the newspapers and in 
business circles by the revolutionary move would be 
hard to exaggerate. Ford became the topic of innumer- 
able articles in the daily press and the magazines, 



THE "UNIVERSAL CAR," MODEL T 63 

whereas previously the items about him were incon- 
spicuous notes on his motor ideas, his factory standardi- 
zation, and his stand in the Selden patent case. The 
effect of his methods on the business life of the country 
had been tremendous for years, but his emergence into 
the limelight that has since surrounded him was caused 
by the news that he would divide with his employees in 
the ensuing year a sum aggregating $10,000,000. 

The wage increase was in effect a profit-sharing plan. 
Other manufacturers, though not a large proportion of 
them, had adopted the sharing principle of giving to the 
workers some part of the assured profits at the end of a 
year, but Ford's idea was different; he proposed to esti- 
mate profits in advance and pay the employees' share 
in the form of regular wages. 

While the editors of the country accorded to him the 
treatment that is meted out to each new hero of the 
hour, finally chasing the naturally democratic inventor 
into a seclusion necessary for the conduct of his affairs, 
the conservatives of industry and the stockholders of his 
own company made no secret of their indignation. Such 
a wild scheme would destroy profits, they said. The 
stockholders, mindful of lessened dividends after the 
diversion of $10,000,000 to other pockets, tried to stop 
the controlling owner, just as they had endeavored to 
prevent him from concentrating on a useful car. Re- 
actionary editorial articles dwelt upon the impossibility 
of carrying on business with such lavish expenditures. 
Rivals found consolation in predictions of bankruptcy 
for the innovator. This was a habit Ford's competitors 
had contracted long ago, and it had grown on them 
with each new stage of his unorthodoxy. 



64 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

In the seven days before the plan went into effect a 
rush of unemployed laborers converged on Detroit, and 
the police had to drive away a mob from the gates of 
Highland Park. A smaller crowd of journalists, no less 
enthusiastic in seeking interviews than were the hordes 
looking for jobs, flocked into the city, delving into the 
personal life of the manufacturer, resurrecting the 
smallest incidents of his career, speculating on his inten- 
tions, trying to ferret out his relatives and friends for 
intimate talks, and making his existence less pleasant 
than it had been before he became a public character. 
When he made a trip to New York City, he found a 
crowd following him, a thousand or more letters wait- 
ing at his hotel, and headlines screaming his presence. A 
guard had to be established around his hotel rooms. But 
he submitted to a mass interview without protest, while 
the photographers snapped his every gesture. 

Returning home after three days in the East, he pro- 
ceeded to carry out his project, disregarding objections 
from inside or out. He had said that raised wages would 
result in lowered cost for his cars, and he proceeded to 
prove it. 

In order to make sure that the men receiving the 
windfall would not become wasteful and cocksure, after 
the usual manner of those who grow suddenly pros- 
perous, he founded a welfare department, which he ex- 
plained was designed to teach his men how to prevent 
"sharpers" from taking their new gains away from 
them. The minimum wage was to be regarded as a 
bonus, and those entitled to its benefits must prove they 
ought to have it. Having decided that a business was 
made more secure by higher wages, but that a workman 



THE "UNIVERSAL CAR, MODEL T 65 

must be worth five dollars a day to get that much, he 
prescribed at the beginning that the bonus should go to 
married men living with their families and taking 
proper care of them, to single men of thrifty habits 
over twenty-two years old, and to younger men and 
women responsible for the support of next of kin. 

Building for the indefinite future was the aim. Better 
work would be done by the worker who was surrounded 
by better living conditions and behaved himself con- 
sistently. Investigators proceeded to keep watch on the 
14,000 Ford workers. Immediately 60 per cent qualified 
to share the profits, and the percentage increased to 78 
in six months and 87 in a year. Changes have been made 
in the system, including stoppage of the inspector sys- 
tem after Ford made clear what kind of employees he 
wanted; but the principle of profit sharing through 
wage increases has endured. And the company's profits 
have been larger, in good or bad times, under the policy 
of paying as high wages as its treasury permitted. 

It has been said by current historians that the "Ford 
joke" was born in 1914. The stories of the serviceable 
car, so unadorned and yet so permanent, must have 
been as numerous as the cars themselves. A book of 
them was collected and sold widely. Probably these jests 
were as good advertising as the most expensive displays; 
certainly they made no dent in Model T's record of 
success. Ford himself enjoyed them. It is related that 
occasionally he originated a story and turned to his ad- 
vantage the popular habit of caricaturing his invention. 
One day he was traveling westward from New York in 
a fine English automobile, a Lanchester. A small proces- 
sion of his associates followed. In the line were a 



66 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Packard and several Fords which was not unusual, in 
view of the fact that every year the Ford company has 
bought models of all cars on the market, to study them 
and learn whatever lessons were to be got from their 
construction. A reporter along the route asked the in- 
ventor how it happened that he was not driving a Ford 
car. 

"I am on a vacation," he replied. "We are in no hurry 
to get anywhere. That's why I'm not in a Ford." 

In 1914 the building of concrete roads in the United 
States increased by more than a thousand miles, augur- 
ing a sixteen-year period of progress to the maximum 
construction of more than ten thousand miles annually. 
That was the year of the great fire in Salem, Massa- 
chusetts, when a thousand buildings were destroyed; 
the death of George Westinghouse, and the accession of 
Pope Pius X in succession to Benedict XV. All the hap- 
penings of the period, even the Ford wage change, were 
in the background of public attention before the year 
passed. While it seemed during the "period of neu- 
trality" that the United States might avoid taking part 
in Europe's war and all our industries gained momen- 
tum, along with the automobile business, the public 
thought and talked war. Although the march of science 
and mechanics was apparently encouraged rather than 
hindered by the slaughter of human beings overseas, 
and jobs were plentiful in the land of the free, there 
hung over our prosperity a nagging fear, a terrifying 
uncertainty of what the future might bring. 



V 

WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 



T 

JL.K 



HE Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and his wife were 
assassinated on June 28, 1914, at Sarajevo, in Bosnia; a 
Yugoslav student, brooding over the oppression of his 
country by Austria, started the flame that was to dev- 
astate Europe. A month afterward the Hapsburg 
monarchy declared war on Servia, and within six days 
Germany had invaded Belgium, and Russian armies 
were marching on Germany. England's decision to join 
France and Belgium followed. Early in August the Ger- 
man host, apparently irresistible, captured Liege, oc- 
cupied Brussels, bombarded Louvain, and started toward 
Paris. With the first British troops in France, and Japan 
formally entering the war with the Allies, the Germans 
were halted only at the first Battle of the Marne, Sep- 
tember 6th to roth, and driven back to dig in for four 
years of trench fighting. 

In October the cables described the fall of Antwerp, 
and in November the gruesome story of the first Battle 
of Ypres and the capture of the marauding cruiser 
Emden in the Pacific. Meanwhile, before the war 
started, United States marines had landed in Vera Cruz, 
Mexico, forecasting troubles which were to keep us oc- 
cupied for years. Foreign entanglements, however, were 
not yet of sufficient importance to alarm the govern- 
ment at Washington, and President Wilson organized 

67 



68 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

his Federal Reserve banks and issued his proclamation of 
neutrality. 

With our peaceful course charted, we saw the 
Panama-Pacific International Exposition opened at San 
Francisco in 1915, the Federal Trade Commission 
founded, and the government railroad started in Alaska. 
From Europe that spring came news of British victories 
in the North Sea, the genesis of the German submarine 
blockade, the second Battle of Ypres, where poison gas 
was first used, and Italy's decision to take sides against 
Germany and Austria, her former treaty partners. For 
this country the sinking of the Lusitania off the Irish 
coast by a German torpedo, on May jth, with the loss of 
1,195 lives, was a forecast that the United States would 
not stay out of the war, though efforts continued at 
Washington to persuade the Germans to discontinue 
sinking ships with Americans on board. The following 
autumn saw the landing of British troops at Salonica 
and the execution of Edith Cavell, an English nurse, by 
the invaders in Belgium. 

As if Providence were giving a demonstration of 
disasters in competition with man-made war, earth- 
quakes killed 30,000 persons in central Italy, and our 
people had their attention diverted from overseas horror 
when the picnic steamboat Eastland turned turtle at 
Chicago with a loss of 812 passengers. 

The millionth Ford car was produced at Highland 
Park on December 10, 1915. Production increased there 
and in the branch plants that were opened as sales 
mounted. 

Through 1916 the war of stalemate dragged on the 
Battle of Verdun, an uprising in Dublin, the consequent 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 69 

execution of Sir Roger Casement and other leaders, the 
arrival of a German submarine at Norfolk, the sea 
battle of Jutland, the third Ypres slaughter, the sink- 
ing of the Hampshire with Lord Kitchener aboard, two 
great battles on the river Somme, and the elevation of 
Lloyd George to be Prime Minister of Great Britain. 
Five days before Christmas a peace note by President 
Wilson was published, without effect. 

Our troubles in Mexico had reached a climax, Villa 
raiding the New Mexico town of Columbus on March 
9th, Pershing leading a punitory military expedition 
across the Border a few days later, and an agreement 
with Mexico resulting six months afterward, whereby 
the soldiers marched back over the Rio Grande. Politics 
that autumn were bitter. Wilson, with the campaign 
slogan "He kept us out of war," barely defeated Charles 
E. Hughes for the Presidency; the margin was a few 
hundred votes in California, where Hughes had of- 
fended the Republican Progressives, after winning the 
party nomination despite the antagonism of Theodore 
Roosevelt. Accomplishments of the year by the Wilson 
Administration included the Eight-Hour Railway Wage 
Law and the Workmen's Compensation Act. Further 
echoes of the war were the bombing of a Preparedness 
Day Parade in San Francisco (because of which Tom 
Mooney, though many students of the case have 
doubted his guilt, is still in prison) and the fatal ex- 
plosion at the Black Tom docks in Jersey City, on the 
border of New York harbor. 

In the period of neutrality Henry Ford did what he 
could, as an individual and as the head of a business, to 
support the cause of peace. He was against war, and he 



70 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

did not care who knew it. So earnestly had he expressed 
his views that in 1915 his advertisements were declined 
by British newspapers, and the vice president of his 
company, James Couzens, resigned. In December of 
that year, only a few days before the millionth Model T 
came out of the factory, he started across the Atlantic 
on his "peace ship," which was a demonstration that at 
least one manufacturer did not want profits from 
legalized wholesale murder. Ford's idea was to furnish a 
neutral point close to the battlefields where representa- 
tive men and women of the opposing nations might get 
together, regardless of the red tape of diplomacy, to 
discuss means of restoring peace. He did not accomplish 
that end. Doubtless he expected only to make his point 
that the peace idea still existed on earth. 

An index of the growth of the automotive industry 
was the passage of the Federal Aid Act, on July n, 
1916, providing $75,000,000 in appropriations to be 
distributed over the next five years for highway im- 
provements in all parts of the country. The outlay by 
the government for that purpose was to be increased to 
$200,000,000 in the year after the war. 

Germany began its unrestricted submarine warfare 
on February i, 1917, and two days afterward the 
United States broke off diplomatic relations. Congress 
declared war on April 6th. In the meantime the Czar 
of Russia had abdicated, and the assistance the Allies 
received from Russia thereafter was negligible. The first 
American troops sailed for France in late June, and 
their first shot was fired four months later, while the 
training of armies on a huge scale began in all our 
states, with the aim of sending to Europe as many mil- 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 




A Ford freight carrier on the Great Lakes. 




Cargoes arriving at the River Rouge Plant. 



THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 




"EAGLE BOATS" FOR THE GOVERNMENT 

These wartime craft were built ten miles from the water in 

the old Highland Park factory. 

lion men as might be needed. The Bolshevists overthrew 
the Russian Republic in November, the Battle of Cam- 
brai was fought in the same month, and in December 
the British captured Jerusalem, and the United States 
made its drastic move of taking control of all the rail- 
roads. Adoption of the selective conscription plan, a de- 
parture from the methods of our previous wars, met 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 



73 



only scant opposition, so intent was the body of our 
population upon finishing the ghastly job now that we 
had undertaken it. An interlude in warlike activities 
was the submission of the Prohibition Amendment by 
Congress to the states. 

Henry Ford, when his country entered the war, took 
the stand of most of the peace advocates. He offered 
every facility of his organization to the government, 
without profit. While his factories continued a limited 
production of cars and parts, most of his efforts went 
into war materials until the Armistice was signed in 
1918. He made special delivery trucks and ambulances 
without having to learn about them, and he made many 
things to which he had not given a thought before. 
Liberty motors for airplanes, caissons, listening devices, 
steel helmets, and eagle boats for combating sub- 




A finished "Eagle Boat:' 



74 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

marines were turned out in quantities, and the Ford 
laboratories were busy experimenting with armor plate 
and other inventions peculiar to war. The government 
insisted that the eagle boats be constructed with the 
utmost rapidity, but the work must not interfere with 
the production of other war implements. The first boat 
was launched in July, 1918, six months after the navy 
gave its order. Not a forging or a rolled beam was used 
except in the engines; the hulls were built entirely of 
sheet steel, in a factory covering thirteen acres, erected 
for the purpose. 

While Ford had been experimenting with farm trac- 
tors since 1902, he did not produce them until wartime. 
The Allies' food emergency in 1917 caused him to send 
the first of these tractors to England. Officers of the 
British government later expressed doubt whether it 
would have been possible to meet the crisis without 
them. They were operated mostly by women, who 
plowed up golf courses and landed estates for the rais- 
ing of crops, without taking men away from the battle- 
fronts. 

As there were not enough draft animals in Britain to 
cultivate crops to replace foodstuffs sunk by German 
submarines, the British investigated power farming. 
Only steam tractors were known in England, and there 
were few of them; all the factories were busy making 
munitions and could not stop to produce farming 
machinery. Turning to Ford, after testing some experi- 
mental tractors made at his Manchester plant, the Lloyd 
George government sent a cable asking his help. He 
replied that he would lend his drawings of the tractors' 
plans, the manufacturing and assembling to be done in 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 75 

England, and would ship as many men as were needed 
to get the work under way, with Charles E. Sorensen, 
the general superintendent of the Ford Motor Com- 
pany, as director of the job. It was soon discovered that 
many of the necessary materials could not be got in 
England, so they had to be shipped from Detroit. The 
lowest price Ford could quote was $1,500 for a tractor 
that should have been delivered for $700 under normal 
conditions. Sorensen was apologetic over the seemingly 
exorbitant figure, but Lord Milner promptly asked for 
5,000 machines. The contract was signed and fulfilled 
according to schedule, despite the problems encountered 
in shipping materials over the submarine-infested ocean. 

So England was introduced to Ford tractors a year 
before this country. In the next decade the invention 
developed into a movable power plant used for all sorts 
of farm purposes; it plowed, harrowed, and reaped, 
threshed, ran grist mills and saw mills, pulled stumps, 
and in countless ways aided in lessening agricultural 
drudgery. Once, when the Detroit shops were shut 
down because of a coal shortage, Ford printed his Dear- 
born newspaper by using a tractor for power to make 
plates. By 1922 the special tractor factory was in full 
operation, and the "Fordson," as it was called, remained 
in popular use until Ford discontinued making it. 

The career of the tractor, after its start as an aid in 
wartime, has led us ahead of our story. When the British 
were solving their immense difficulties back in 1918, the 
Ford plant was one of many sources of American as- 
sistance. With a year of intensive training behind them, 
American divisions captured St. Mihiel on September 
1 3th, took their share in the Battle of the Meuse- 



76 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Argonne in the two months following, helped to break 
the Hindenburg Line, and joined in the forward march 
that caused Germany to sue for peace. Meanwhile, the 
Central Powers' effort to stave off defeat by making a 
treaty with the Bolshevists, by bombarding Paris with 
long-range cannon, and by their eleventh-hour rallies 
against the revived Allied armies, had gone for naught; 
in a distant Russian province, at Ekaterinburg, the new 
rulers of the Slav empire had officially murdered the 
Czar Nicholas II and his family; on the seas scores of 
vessels had been sunk in the final campaign of the sub- 
marines; in the United States the old ways of peace had 
disappeared, and our daily habits were remodeled to 
conform with such innovations as railway and fuel con- 
trol, daylight saving, and the other concomitants of 
war. 

A people wild with joy celebrated the Armistice on 
November nth, after having indulged in a similar or 
even more noisy celebration four days earlier upon hear- 
ing a false report that the war had ended. Then began 
at once the nine-year period which has come to be 
known in retrospect as the era of post-war hysterics. 

"Red scares," fostered often by those who should 
have had their feet more firmly on the ground, were 
the most violent manifestations of the times; as soon as 
one proved groundless (there never was any sound evi- 
dence that Bolshevist influence or propaganda was hav- 
ing a real effect in America), another arose; political 
parties accused each other of encouraging the menace of 
communism ; sects and racial groups blamed one another 
for inciting radicalism. 

The total American investment in automobile manu- 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 



77 



facturing, not including the factories making parts, ac- 
cessories, bodies, and tires, was $1,015,443,338 in 1919. 
There were 7,000,000 passenger cars, and 72 per cent 
of them were closed types, a contrast to the previous 
decade, when nearly all of them had been open. 

Ford went back to full production immediately after 




The Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit. 

the war, advanced his minimum wage to $6.00 a day in 
1919, and earned a net income of $71,000,000 for his 
company in the year. About the same time the Henry 
Ford Hospital, in Detroit, which had been taken over 
by the government, was returned to him. The plans for 
this institution were as great a novelty in medical circles 
as had been the "universal" car in the motor industry. 
Ford announced that it was for neither the rich nor the 
poor, but for self-supporting persons in between; all 
the rooms would be equally desirable, the resident doc- 
tors would be forbidden to practise outside, and all 



yS THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

patients would have examinations by a sufficient 
number of physicians to insure a correct diagnosis. 
There were many other novel ideas for the hospital, but 
after years of successful operation they have ceased to 
excite comment. Millions have been invested in the in- 
stitution, which is not expected to yield a profit. That 
fact, too, is no longer a cause of talk. The enterprises 
which Ford conducts without profit, or with a loss, are 
so numerous that the news of them is now a common- 
place. 

It is difficult to realize that fifteen years ago the 
buyer of a Ford car paid extra for a self-starter, and 
that the average legal speed for automobiles in the 
United States was twenty miles an hour, the thirty- 
mile speed allowed by New York and California being 
exceptional. But in 1919 there were many conditions 
that now seem archaic. The beauty-parlor business was 
an embryo, and women who used rouge on their faces 
were viewed askance; probably anybody who had put 
paint on the fingernails would have been arrested, as 
were those females who dared to appear on Eastern 
bathing beaches without stockings. Very short skirts 
and very short hair were not yet in vogue for women, 
but they came a few years later. 

There had been no successful tabloid newspaper until 
the Daily News was established in New York that sum- 
mer, and the old fogies predicted its failure along with 
the other new things in the world. Nation-wide prohi- 
bition went into effect at the end of June, when the 
wartime anti-liquor law, enacted many months pre- 
viously, became operative, bridging the gap until the 
Constitutional amendment should supersede it the fol- 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 79 

lowing winter. Ty Cobb of Detroit was still the base- 
ball idol, and Babe Ruth a beginner. 

No radios had been installed, and wireless was still 
used only for code messages and distress signals at sea. 
What were later called post-war manners, bringing 
down the wrath of the elders upon the rising genera- 
tion, had not come to be recognized as a widespread 
phenomenon, through the results of our returning sol- 
diers' experiences in France included a broadening free- 
ness of speech and the appearance of the "well-dressed 
young man" in a soft shirt with his evening clothes. 
He soon sent the tailcoat into complete banishment, 
while the young women were not much behind him in 
ridding themselves of the trappings of a more sedate age. 

The year 1919 was the beginning of a decade of sen- 
sational flights in the air, many of them fatal. John 
Alcock and A. W. Brown made the first non-stop 
Atlantic crossing in June, from Newfoundland to Ire- 
land. A fortnight later the British dirigible -R-34 
came from Scotland to Long Island and soon returned 
safely to England. In October the pioneer trans- 
continental flight was made by Lieutenants W. B. May- 
nard and Alexander Pearson. 

Theodore Roosevelt had died early in the year, which 
before its close saw Woodrow Wilson's downfall as a 
national leader and his physical collapse under the strain 
of campaigning for the Versailles Treaty. Returning 
from the Peace Conference, which he had persuaded to 
adopt his League of Nations plan, he found a majority 
of the Senate adamant against the idea. When reserva- 
tions which he regarded as nullifying the League's in- 
fluence were insisted upon by the Senate, he decided to 



80 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

make a tour of the country and stir up sufficient senti- 
ment to force a back-down of his adversaries; but his 
health was shattered, and he was unable to recover from 
a sudden illness in Pueblo, Colorado. They took him 
back to the White House, an invalid for life. 

While parades of returning soldiery, arriving at inter- 
vals through the year, aroused echoes of the wartime 
fervor, a series of labor disturbances contributed to the 
spirit of unrest. The Boston police, seeking increased 
pay to cover the rising cost of living, went on strike; 
the city's mayor asked the state of Massachusetts for 
help; Governor Calvin Coolidge ordered out the guards- 
men, and in reply to a protest from Samuel Gompers 
gave voice to his famous statement that there was "no 
right to strike against the public safety by anybody, 
anywhere, any time." That doomed the strike and 
helped Coolidge on the way to the White House. 

Amid the unrest of 1920 was fought the Presidential 
campaign that ended with the election of Warren G. 
Harding by a tremendous vote. The succeeding years, 
through the depressed period of 1921, the better busi- 
ness of 1922, and the rush into prosperity in 1923, still 
found the advance of industry a contrast to the nerv- 
ousness of the people in mass. The "Red scares" reached 
a climax in the Wall Street explosion, which seemed to 
be an isolated outrage of no significance in relation to 
Bolshevist propaganda. The Prohibition and Woman 
Suffrage amendments were in effect. Assassinations in 
European countries became frequent. The new Union 
of Soviet Socialist Republics, organized in 1922, seemed 
on the way to permanence, though the "capitalistic" 
world persisted in thinking it a passing show. Mussolini, 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 



8l 




The lowest-priced Ford, at $369, in 




A Ford welfare project in a small village. 



82 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

assuming the dictatorship of Italy under the opposite 
theory of Fascism, was headed toward order and peace, 
while the prophets performed their usual function of 
forecasting the reverse of what eventually happened. 

If there was one place where post-war readjustment 
went ahead uninterruptedly, in the belief that human 
existence was destined for improvement, however dif- 
ferent it might be from the old times, that place was the 
headquarters of the Ford Motor Company. The Ford 
principle of confidence in progress was not jolted. Even 
the evil of war, said the manufacturer, had brought 
good results, in the betterment of machinery and the 
increase of new inventions. Men were thinking more, 
doing wonders with their brains, in the era of per- 
plexity. 

When he turned out his five millionth Model T on 
May 15, 1921, Ford could look back on accomplish- 
ments more diversified than any business leader the 
world had known. In progressing from the gasoline 
buggy with its one cylinder to the "universal car," with 
its four cylinders, self-starter, and practically unlimited 
durability, he had not only established the greatest of 
automobile plants at Highland Park and begun to build 
at River Rouge one which would be much larger, but 
he had put to the test thousands of new methods and 
devices for reducing manufacturing costs, simplifying 
plant procedure, and improving the condition of work- 
ingmen. 

Continuing to make most of his engines and parts at 
the main factory, he had distributed his assembling 
plants far afield. To an increasing extent manufactur- 
ing also was being done at other plants, lessening freight 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 83 

costs and speeding deliveries to the thousands of sales 
agencies. Besides experimenting with new machines, de- 
veloping the assembly line until it became the dominant 
idea of the plants, and multiplying the equipment for 
making everything he found he could make more 
economically than he could buy, he went into scores 
of feeder industries hitherto considered independent of 
the motor maker's province. He bought a glass factory 
and made glass better and cheaper than he could get it 
elsewhere; acquired forests to supply the wood used in 
his cars, dug his own coal in his own Kentucky mines, 
brought iron from his own ore lands in his own steam- 
ships, took over a railroad 350 miles long when its serv- 
ice to his main plants proved unsatisfactory, and col- 
lected numerous smaller establishments in which to 
manufacture what he needed. 

From the first it had been his plan to buy whenever 
possible, to manufacture only when he could save money 
and improve quality, with the exception that he did 
not want anybody else to build his engines or assemble 
his cars. For fifteen years or more, beginning with the 
company's start in the rented Detroit carpenter shop, 
there was a steady increase in the number of things he 
made for use in his cars. Of late years, however, his out- 
side purchases have been increasing. Today more than 
five thousand different concerns make articles for Ford, 
whereas a few years ago the number was below three 
thousand five hundred. No doubt his leadership in in- 
dustrial economy and quality production is largely re- 
sponsible for the fact that others can now do many of 
the things which he formerly was obliged to do for 
himself. 



84 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

His interests by this time had led to outside activities 
which had no more direct bearing on motor-making 
than on any other business, but which he regarded as 
beneficial to human progress. Village industries and 
farming had concerned him for years. Gradually he en- 
larged his experiments in both. Describing one of the 
small plants he organized in southern Michigan, in line 
with his theory that centralization of manufacturing 
was destined eventually to yield to decentralization, he 
wrote: 

All the men live within a few miles of the plant and 
come to work by automobile. Many of them own farms or 
homes. We have not drawn men from the farms we have 
added industry to farming. One worker operates a farm 
which requires him to have two trucks, a tractor, and a 
small closed car. Another man, with the aid of his wife, 
clears more than five hundred dollars a season on flowers. 
We give any man a leave of absence to work on his farm, 
but with the aid of machinery these farmers are out of the 
shops a surprisingly short while they spend no time at all 
sitting around waiting for crops to come up. They have 
the industrial idea and are not content to be setting hens. 

Now that the plant is well in operation, we take only 
employees from the district and none at all from Detroit. 
The change in the country has been remarkable. With the 
added purchasing power of our wages, the stores have been 
made larger and better, the streets have been improved, 
and the whole town has taken on a new life. That is one 
of the ways in which the wage motive inevitably works out. 

In the same region where these small plants flourish 
he has established experimental farms, altogether about 
forty thousand acres, where the practice of cooperative 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 85 

farming is tested under the owner's direction. In one of 
his advertisements in recent years he said: 

For a long time I have believed that industry and agri- 
culture are natural partners and that they should begin to 
recognize and practise their partnership. Each of them is 
suffering from ailments which the other can cure. Agri- 
culture needs a wider and steadier market; industrial 
workers need more and steadier jobs. Can each be made to 
supply what the other needs? I think so. 

The link between is chemistry. In the vicinity of Dear- 
born we are farming twenty thousand acres for everything 
from sunflowers to soy beans. We pass the crops through 
our laboratory to learn how they may be used in the manu- 
facture of motorcars and thus provide an industrial market 
for the farmer's products. I foresee the time when industry 
shall no longer denude the forests which require generations 
to mature, nor use up the mines which were ages in mak- 
ing, but shall draw its raw material largely from the an- 
nual produce of the fields. The dinner table of the world 
is not a sufficient outlet for the farmer's products; there 
must be found a wider market, if agriculture is to be all 
that it is competent of becoming. And where is that 
market to be found if not in industry? 

I am convinced that we shall be able to get out of yearly 
crops most of the basic materials which we now get from 
forest and mine. That is to say, we shall grow annually 
many if not most of the substances needed in manufactur- 
ing. When that day comes, and it is surely on the way, the 
farmer will not lack a market and the worker will not lack 
a job. More people will live in the country. The present un- 
natural condition will be naturally balanced again. Our 
foundations will be once more securely laid in the land. 

The day of small industry near the farm will return, be- 
cause much of the material grown for industry can be 



86 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

given its first processing by the men who raised it. The 
master farmer will become, as he was in former years, 
master of a form of industry besides. . . . 

Our times are primitive. True progress is yet to come. 
The industrial age has scarcely dawned as yet; we see only 
its first crude beginnings. 

When Ford celebrated his sixtieth birthday in 1923 
by turning out 7,000 cars in one day, the first balloon 
tire had just been put on the market by Firestone. Car 
production was rushing into further millions every 
year. There were already 40,000 buses on the roads in 
this country. In the Ford headquarters, with an entirely 
new personnel under his direction now that his original 
associates had withdrawn, the inventor had reached a 
point where he could no longer devote himself wholly 
to the mechanical side of the company. His theories on 
finances and management, relations of capital and 
labor, had attracted worldwide attention in his recent 
autobiography, and were subsequently amplified in 
other volumes and various interviews."" One of his pro- 
nouncements which gave the public its first real concep- 
tion of the company's resources in 1922 was this: 

It has been our policy always to keep on hand a large 
amount of cash the cash balance in recent years has 
usually been in excess of fifty million dollars. This is de- 
posited in banks all over the country. We do not borrow, 
but we have established lines of credit, so that if we so 
cared we might raise a very large amount of money by 
bank borrowing. But keeping the cash reserve makes bor- 

*Books by Henry Ford, written in collaboration with Samuel Crowther, 
are: My Life and Work, Today and Tomorrow, Edison as I Know Him, 
and Moving Forward. 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 87 

rowing unnecessary our provision is only to be prepared 
to meet an emergency. I have no prejudice against proper 
borrowing. It is merely that I do not want to run the 
danger of having the control of the business and hence the 
particular idea of service to which I am devoted taken into 
other hands. 

The years between wartime and the boom period saw 
the birth of radio broadcasting. An officer of the West- 
inghouse Company in East Pittsburgh had started in 
1920 to send out music and baseball scores in a hap- 
hazard fashion from his station in an old barn. Within 
two years while the country's avocations continued to 
include movements for averting the Bolshevist menace, 
and the younger generation went in for the free-and- 
easy, and a large part of both generations adopted each 
new fad and fancy of the hectic times the annual 
business of selling radio sets rose to $60,000,000. In an- 
other seven years it reached $842,000,000. 

Other events of the four years ending with 1923 
were the organization of the League of 'Nations, with- 
out our assistance; the establishment of the independent 
kingdom of Egypt under a British protectorate, and the 
proclamation of the Irish Free State. The grist of 
disaster included the wrecks of two dirigible balloons, 
the ZH-2 in England, and the Roma over Hampton, 
Virginia, and two earthquakes that killed 300,000 per- 
sons in Japan and China. Portuguese flyers made the 
first air crossing of the South Atlantic. The Washington 
Conference for the Limitation of Armaments was called 
by President Harding in 1921, the Lincoln Memorial 
dedicated at Washington in the next year. The last 
American troops were withdrawn from the Rhine, and 



88 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Calvin Coolidge became President after Harding's 
death, in 1923. There was a new Pope, Pius XI, in 
Rome. Two of the world's most glamorous figures 
passed away, Admiral Robert E. Peary in 1920 and 
Madame Sarah Bernhardt in 1923. 

The ten millionth Model T came out of the Ford fac- 
tory on June 4, 1924, when the business boom was 
under full swing, five months before Coolidge was re- 
elected President. The "universal car" had sold as high 
as $1,250 and as low as $250, and yet wages had gone 
up and up, in accordance with Ford's repeated insistence 
that a product wanted by a large proportion of the 
public could be made more cheaply by high-priced 
workers with economical methods. His critics were less 
vocal now, and the example he had set bore fruit in 
raised pay checks everywhere, without regard to the 
speculative boom which was beginning to set the scene 
for depression. 

Rural concrete road mileage, less than five miles at 
the beginning of Model T's career, increased to 31,146 
miles in 1924. The prices of commodities went higher 
as car prices fell. That contrast did not affect the 
general prosperity of industry, which with few excep- 
tions moved forward steadily. Hopeful signs of the year 
were the acceptance of the Dawes Reparation Plan by 
the Allies and Germany, the beginning of a withdrawal 
of French troops from the Ruhr, and the appointment 
of Owen D. Young as agent of the scaled-down repara- 
tion payments. A United States army airplane made a 
trip around the world, with few stops. The dirigible Los 
Angeles flew from Friedrichshaven to New York. The 
death of WoodroW Wilson occurred early in the year. 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 89 

Congress enacted a law restricting immigration and ex- 
cluding the Japanese, and passed the first Soldiers' Bonus 
Bill over President Coolidge's veto. The beauty-parlor 
business became one of the nation's most profitable in- 
dustries. Use of the radio spread until hardly a housetop 
lacked its aerial wire, after the deadlocked Democratic 
Convention in New York had shown how easy it was 
to follow news, hear speeches, and enjoy music over the 
air. The crossword puzzle craze was born, also the 
fashion of baggy trousers for bareheaded collegians. 
An American tour by the Prince of Wales delighted the 
crowd. Eleanor Duse, the great Italian actress, died. 
France chose a new President, Gaston Doumergue. 

In 1925 the Ford Motor Company paid wages 
amounting to $250,000,000, and it was estimated that 
$500,000,000 went to the workers in outside factories 
serving the company, and another $250,000,000 to the 
sales forces, making a total of about $1,000,000,000 
contributed to the public purse. Ford again called at- 
tention to the relation of cost and pay checks; the price 
of cars had decreased 40 per cent since 1913, when 
wages were only averaging $2.40 a day. 

Everything else kept going up in cost. Letter postage 
rose to three cents. The people had the money to pay, 
and sellers were not lacking who made them pay more 
than the products were worth. Nearly every group of 
citizens except the farmers felt prosperous 'that year 
and for some time afterward. 

The news of the world, which was beginning to be 
parceled out by radio broadcasters as well as newspapers 
(such news broadcasting continued without friction 
until these two machines of public information recently 



90 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

grew jealous and made a bargain to keep off each other's 
preserves), covered the wreck of a United States navy 
dirigible in a thunder squall, a series of fatal storms in 
the Middle West, an earthquake calamity in Japan, the 
signing of the Nine-Power Treaty, the ratification of 
the Locarno Pact, and the death of the foremost Ameri- 
can portrait painter, John S. Sargent. The Persian shah 
was deposed, ending a dynasty which had ruled for 146 
years. Greece proclaimed herself a republic. The Turks 
followed suit, abolishing polygamy by law and giv- 
ing to their new president, Mustapha Kemal, the privi- 
lege of granting divorces, whereupon he immediately 
ordered one for himself. Siam got a new king, Prajad- 
hipok, who a few years later made a visit to this 
country. 

In order to make Model T a better car, Ford had 
eighty-one changes made in it. The most noticeable one 
in the public mind was a new body shape and hood, 
which, however, were not destined to be long in evi- 
dence. Model T's honorable and productive career was 
soon to end. The eighty-one changes cost the Ford 
company $1,395,596 for materials and $5,682,387 for 
labor. Other expenses raised the total to $8,000,000, 
without counting the time lost from production. That 
huge outlay was a small matter compared to what was 
to come when Model T went off the market. But a sum- 
mary of the company's resources at the time shows 
even the largest operation could have had no terrors for 
Ford. 

There were, in 1926, 88 Ford plants, including those 
of the Ford Motor Company of Canada. Sixty were in 
the United States, 28 in other countries. Of the 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 



9 1 



domestic factories, 24 were manufacturing plants and 
36 were partly for manufacturing and partly for as- 
sembling. In that last year of full production, the 
capacity of the plants was 2,000,000 cars annually. 

Total profits of the Ford Motor Company from 1903 
to 1926, inclusive, were $900,839,000. In the nineteen 




MODEL T The new shape of 1926. 

years of Model T, it paid out wages and salaries of 
nearly $2,000,000,000, not including 1918, when the 
factories were largely occupied with war work. The 
aggregate sum paid to those who contributed to Model 
T's manufacture, including the forces of companies 
selling supplies and parts to Ford, reached the extraor- 
dinary figure of $7,000,000,000. Even that was not the 
full amount, for it did not include the wages of train 
workers, oil and rubber laborers, and many others. 



92 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

While the accumulation of the resources that made 
such outlays possible was due primarily to new inven- 
tions and improved methods of handling improved 
tools, economies in management played a large part. 
Among such economies none was more important, or 
more characteristic of Ford, than his war against waste. 
His idea of stopping waste included getting use, or 
value, out of things which had not been used or valu- 
able before. His salvage department was earning at least 
$20,000,000 a year. It would take a whole book to tell 
all the savings. A few will suffice as examples: 80,000,- 
ooo pounds of steel that once had gone into scrap were 
handled profitably each year. Uses were found for 
moulding sand, rags, scrap oil, old brick, paper, and 
fragments of wood. In shipping car bodies one freight 
car was used where formerly eighteen had been needed, 
because the bodies were now forwarded in pieces to be 
assembled in branch plants. On the vessels built to take 
materials and parts to European, South American, and 
Pacific Coast branches, the company saved $20,000 on 
every trip by loading "loose" the cargoes which once 
had been crated for railway transportation. 

The most spectacular work of salvage was the tear- 
ing apart of 199 ships bought from the United States 
Shipping Board. From these steel vessels, which were 
"disassembled" at huge cost after special machinery had 
been manufactured for the task, a force varying from 
1,000 to 1,500 men removed about 90,000 feet of wood, 
untold quantities of paper and beaver board, radiators, 
mouldings, hinges, locks, door knobs, brass and elec- 
trical fixtures, pumps, oil gauges, and other articles, 
and, of course, the larger item of several hundred tons 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 



93 



of steel from each ship all usable in the Ford scheme 
of things. The ships were bought for $1,697,470. Spe- 
cial equipment for the salvaging cost $1,000,000, and 
labor half a million. The profits on the undertaking, if 




ASSEMBLY LINE Fitting the crankshaft in place. 

there were any, Ford never estimated. He said he was 
satisfied with the lesson he and his men learned. 

We have on the credit side [he wrote] something that 
cannot be reduced to figures we have the experience 
which our men gained in solving this big new problem. 
That is always a prime profit. The training we gained, the 
confidence, the new insight into methods, render me quite 
indifferent to anything that figures could show. In reckon- 
ing gains you must reckon the growing ability of your 



94 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 




ASSEMBLY LINE The engine installed. 

organization as far more important than a growing balance 
in the bank. 

In listing his company's activities up to Model T's 
banner year, Ford mentioned the building of the Lin- 
coln car, a more expensive automobile which was never 
intended to be a commodity, though it also has its 
interchangeable parts and is of standardized manufac- 
ture; the operation of iron and coal mines and lumber 
camps, the extension of the Fordson plant as a converter 
of raw materials and waste, the building of a laboratory 
at Dearborn, the worldwide system of branch factories, 
and the manufacture of glass, cement, flax, artificial 
leather, and chemical compounds. The necessity for en- 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 



95 



tering other lines than automobile manufacture was 
evidenced, he pointed out, by the fact that only two 
of his various by-products were sold outside the com- 
pany. 

The investment in the American automobile industry 
attained its peak in 1926, totaling $2,089,489,325, 
which was more than double what it had been seven 
years before, and American roads were being hard-sur- 
faced at the rate of 40,000 miles annually at a cost of 
about $1,000,000,000. 

The year was notable for crises in foreign affairs, 
labor disturbances, aeronautical exploits, and increased 
popular interest in sports of all sorts. The new Turkish 
regime made civil marriage obligatory, with religious 




ASSEMBLY LINE Ready for the finishing touches. 



96 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

ceremonies optional; Germany was admitted to the 
League of Nations; Japan acquired a new emperor, 
Hirohito. An anthracite strike was settled after lasting 
six months; in England a general strike of 2,500,000 




ASSEMBLY LINE Completed cars on their way out. 

workers was called off in nine days, but the miners 
stayed out for months afterward. Byrd crossed the 
North Pole in an airplane, and the Amundsen-Nobile 
expedition in a dirigible balloon followed three days 
later. In the summer the English Channel was full of 
swimmers trying for new records. Television was in- 
vented by J. L. Baird. A tropical hurricane raged across 
the Bahama Islands, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi, 
causing most damage in Miami and the neighboring 



WARTIMES AND AFTERWARD 97 

cities. Philadelphia had its Sesquicentennial Exposition. 
Two incidents which absorbed the attention of a large 
public were the American tour of Queen Marie of 
Rumania and the death of the motion-picture star 
Rudolph Valentino, at whose funeral women formed 
lines stretching nine blocks from a New York under- 
taking establishment. 

After the fifteen millionth Model T came out of 
the factory in 1927, Henry Ford announced his decision 
to abandon the car which had ruled the roads for nine- 
teen years. The time had arrived when refinements in 
automobile construction should be regarded as necessi- 
ties; as the scale of living rose, it was logical that 
comfort in transportation should keep pace with the 
ever increasing comforts of living generally. In pace 
with the times Ford reached another conclusion; after 
experimenting with the five-day week for a year, he 
said he had demonstrated that the shorter period of 
labor increased production in his plants. He expressed 
the opinion that the five-day week should not be en- 
forced by law, as some industries were not yet ready 
for it, but predicted that it would be generally adopted 
and that eventually the daily working shift could be 
profitably reduced below eight hours. Not less work, 
but better and more work in less time, with better 
methods and better tools, became a permanent Ford 
policy, without affecting the policies of higher wages 
and improved production. 



VI 

THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY 



c 



fHANGES IN THE FORD PLANTS for the production 
of a new model involved an expenditure of money and 
time almost beyond computation. The cost was more 
than a hundred million dollars. Nearly forty thousand 
machines were scrapped and new ones installed in their 
stead. The factories, except those making parts for 
Model T, were shut down for the alterations in the 
spring of 1927, when the plan was announced. On 
December 26. the new car was offered for sale in show- 
rooms over the country. 

For nearly twenty years Ford had been making 
changes, throwing out old machines and tools as he 
found better ones, and these gradual replacements had 
furnished experience for the gigantic shift of 1927. 
The previous alterations in shop equipment had not 
interrupted production, as it had been arranged in each 
case, when the improving of a part was contemplated, 
simply to make greater quantities of that part than 
were needed and to use the oversupply while the sub- 
stitution of new machinery was effected in a section of 
the plant. .But the wholesale recasting of the business 
to change from Model T to Model A meant rearranging 
and replacing all the machinery at once and a conse- 
quent stoppage of production. 

So the industry was remade from top to bottom. De- 

98 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY 99 

creasing the working forces by nearly twenty-five 
thousand men resulted, but Ford, while regretting this 
necessity, voiced the prediction that in the long run 
the revamping would provide jobs for more men than 
ever before which within two years proved to be the 
case. He also expressed the opinion that a company 
which feared to make improvements in its methods and 
product, however costly, would eventually reach a 
point where it could not employ anybody at all. 

The major decision when the transformation began, 
just after the fifteen millionth Model T had been turned 
out, was to develop the River Rouge Plant into the 
main factory, replacing Highland Park as the largest 
automobile center in existence. To Highland Park was 
assigned the manufacture of parts for the old models, 
of which tens of thousands would remain on the roads 
for years to come. 

Not only were new machine tools installed for use 
in constructing Model A, but the whole power plant 
at Highland Park was abandoned, and at River Rouge 
were set up turbogenerators giving 250,000 horsepower, 
more than twice the amount used before. Other major 
machinery which could have continued to serve its pur- 
pose was replaced by more modern inventions; in short, 
Ford took advantage of the shut-down to revise every 
phase of factory equipment capable of improvement 
and did not confine his betterments to those implements 
which must be changed in order to make a new model. 

For example, the largest power press in the Model T 
regime, weighing about two hundred thousand pounds, 
gave place to presses of five hundred thousand pounds 
or more. In making the old car there had been a tend- 







The World's Largest Automobile Plant, at River Row; 




(Insert) Ford's First Brick Factory in Detroit. 



102 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

ency to increase welding. The new one was to be 
composed 90 per cent of steel, with a minimum of cast 
parts. 

We could in most instances have fitted our new design 
to the existing machinery [wrote the manufacturer, in 
describing the operation] but that would not have been as 
economical in the end as disregarding our machinery and 
taking a fresh start. The new machinery is in line with 
future progress. It pays in the end to do a thing right. 

Machines and men from every department at High- 
land Park were shifted. Equipment was shipped to 
assembly plants in other parts of the country and over- 
seas. The layouts of plants were remapped, new build- 
ings erected from foundation to roof. In the early 
autumn, while the public was being regaled with daily 
rumors about the new model, partial production of the 
car was under way. The final assembly line was moved 
from Highland Park to River Rouge. The new plant, 
covering two square miles, soon contained nearly thirty 
miles of conveyors. Departments transferred from 
Highland Park included those which made roller bear- 
ings, ball bearings, axle shafts, gears, wheels, die cast- 
ings, radius rods, and universal joints. A study of 
space-saving resulted in a reduction of the area occupied 
by the final assembly line by one half, without decreas- 
ing the output, and a reorganization of eighteen 
departments into fourteen occupying nearly 10 per 
cent less floor room. 

Minute plans for each moving operation were pre- 
pared in advance. First, the men charged with the 
relocation checked every inch of space allotted for a 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY 



103 



department in the River Rouge Plant. Then came the 
workmen, who, while waiting for their machines to 
follow, were placed temporarily in whatever space was 
available near their pre-arranged stations. Heavy ma- 
chines were transported in railroad flat cars, lighter ones 
in trucks. All the while, builders were busy on new 
construction, electricians were hitching up machines 




MODEL A After the recasting of the Ford industry. 

to the power lines, and an army of inspectors was 
checking each of the innumerable details. 

What was going on at River Rouge was happening 
to a lesser degree in the tributary plants around the 
world. 

The first Model A came off the assembly line on 
October 2Oth. It was a far cry from its predecessor, and 
had an up-to-date body shape, more room inside, a 
gear shift like that of the expensive automobiles, and 



104 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

was painted in a variety of colors to suit all tastes. In 
the hood was no line reminiscent of the famous Model 
T. When the new cars were displayed on the second 
day of December, they afforded a first-page sensation 
for the daily newspapers. Crowds jammed the streets 
around city showrooms, and the police had to be called 
to keep order. It was estimated that a million persons 
tried to see the new model in New York. For months 
previously there had appeared columns of speculations 
as to what Ford was doing, to what extent he would 
change the appearance of his "universal car" and its 
mechanism, and whether his policies of low prices and 
high wages would continue to keep him in the lead. 

Eleven months later the production reached 6,000 
cars a day, which were enough to start Model A on the 
way to paying back at least a part of the cost it had 
entailed; 186,313 men were employed by the company, 
and wages were still up and prices still down. 

In the meantime, the automobile business centering 
at River Rouge was not the only phase of American life 
to undergo radical changes. Something had happened 
to improve the public's temper and increase its opti- 
mism, at least as far as the younger generation was 
concerned. In the opinion of thoughtful observers there 
was evident about this time a lessening of the race after 
bizarre fads and an increase of attention to education 
and work. Though the older generation, set in its ways, 
was immersed in the speculative mania that was to 
reach a climax so soon, the young men and women 
seemed to be outgrowing the nervousness of the post- 
war era. The causes of this were probably so various 
as to be a topic of debate rather than proof, but many 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY 



105 



analysts of current events have fixed on a single inci- 
dent as marking the transition. 

A young man with a shock of blond hair and an 
engaging gravity of manner flew an airplane from St. 
Louis in the spring of 1927, stayed a few days on Long 
Island among crowds that paid little attention to him, 




Henry Ford and Charles A. Lindbergh. 

and on May loth took off toward the Atlantic Ocean. 
On the following day, while the world marveled, its 
attitude of indifference now replaced by the wildest 
enthusiasm, the lone flyer hovered and circled over 
Paris and glided down to the aviation field of Le 
Bourget. 



106 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

"I am Charles Lindbergh," he said to the vanguard 
of an immense throng closing around his snow-white 
plane. 

Others had flown the Atlantic. At that moment a 
score of more experienced but less determined pilots 
were waiting for better winds and fairer weather to 
try for the $25,000 prize which had gone unearned 
since a Frenchman resident on Fifth Avenue offered it 
six years previously for the first direct flight from New 
York to Paris. Several of them were to duplicate the 
Lindbergh feat, and flights of greater distances were to 
be accomplished, but without dimming the fame of the 
quiet youth from the Middle West. 

Lindbergh the unknown became overnight the hero 
of the generation. After he had made a short tour of 
European capitals, with crowds and kings alike striving 
to do him honor, and when he returned home to a 
welcome beyond the dreams of conquerors, the hero- 
worship continued with a unanimity that would have 
been incredible if it had not been so completely proved. 
There had been no such instance of idolatry in our 
times. 

Looking back from the vantage of later years, one 
wonders at the phenomenon of such a united public 
opinion in a period which otherwise was distinctive for 
its conflicting views and prejudices. Perhaps the expla- 
nation is that a floundering world, worn out by the 
tensions and uncertainties of nearly a decade since the 
war, needed a sudden emotional experience to bring 
back its sense of balance. At any rate, the millions of 
our citizens took Lindbergh to their hearts, and he 
became the ideal for a new generation which had been 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY IO/ 

growing up in an atmosphere of fear, cynicism, and 
frivolity. 

It was a banner year for transoceanic aerial adven- 
tures, whether or not the flights had any permanent 
effect on the promotion of practical and safe air travel. 
Two Frenchmen, Nungesser and Coli, had tried to make 
the journey westward from Paris to New York, but 
had disappeared, nobody knew where. Two weeks after 
the Lindbergh achievement Clarence D. Chamberlin, 
flying with Charles A. Levine as backer and passenger, 
soared from New York to Eisleben, Germany, breaking 
all distance records. Commander Richard E. Byrd and 
three companions followed in another fortnight, land- 
ing in the surf off the French shoreline. Ruth Elder and 
George Haldernan started from New York in the fall, 
dropped into the sea near the Azores, and were rescued 
by a passing steamship. As the year ended, Mrs. Frances 
W. Grayson and three others left Ireland in a hydro- 
plane and were lost. Other fatal attempts, leaving no 
traces of the flyers' fate, had been those of Paul Red- 
fern, who started from Brunswick, Georgia, for Brazil; 
Princess Lowenstein-Wertheim, lost with three asso- 
ciates on the way from London to New York; Philip 
D. Payne and two friends swallowed up in the un- 
known on their way from Maine to Italy, and Captain 
Jerry Tully and Lieutenant James Metcalf, trying to 
fly from Newfoundland to London. 

Radio broadcasting grew into such an institution in 
the year that the Federal Radio Commission was cre- 
ated, and sales of receiving sets increased to $400,000,- 
ooo, a sum that was to be doubled in the next two 
years. Other events of 1927 were the Mississippi River 



108 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

floods, which inundated 20,000 square miles in six states 
and were followed by tornadoes that swelled the prop- 
erty losses to a quarter of a billion dollars; the sending 
of our marines to Nicaragua, for the usual purpose of 
protecting American interests, and the civil war in 
China, where the marines had their innings along with 
15,000 soldiers from other nations. There were more 
than 64,000 miles of federal aid roads finished in the 
year. The tide of prosperity rose steadily. 

All the government had to do in those days, it ap- 
peared, was to sit by and watch good times get better. 
In 1928, when boom days reached their apex, about half 
a million Americans traveled to foreign countries, most 
of them on pleasure bent. When they came home, they 
left $650,000,000 behind them, an appreciable part of 
it spent on fine raiment. With money plentiful and the 
radio spreading news of Paris fashions to every hamlet 
and farm, the American tourists were no longer con- 
fined to the city-bred. They came from the far corners, 
and the country cousins were as numerous as the city 
sisters, and quite as knowing, when it came to invading 
the French shops. 

When the end of the boom period rolled around, in 
1929, Model A had taken the lead in the sales of motor- 
cars. Ford was still unique among manufacturers in that 
he bothered himself no more than the necessity of the 
moment demanded and was troubled not at all by 
pessimism over the future. When times began to be less 
prosperous, he fell back on his philosophy that the mar- 
ket for a serviceable product could not be disturbed 
for long, and that the millions he had spent for making 
over his factories, or might continue to spend for re- 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY 109 

covery, were investments in the future rather than 
losses to be lamented. He kept on spending. Soon after 
the reconstruction of the factories, he made one of his 
largest investments in entering the Brazil rubber field, 
purchasing vast tracts, and instituting an experiment of 
indefinite magnitude for the purpose of providing a 
rubber supply independent of European and Asiatic 
markets. 

His response to the stock-market crash in the fall of 
1929 was to announce on December ist an increase of 
the minimum wage to $7.00 a day, which would involve 
annual payment of an additional $20,000,000 by the 
company. In a few months his payrolls showed that the 
workers were receiving an average rate of $1.00 an 
hour, which was as much as an unskilled laborer earned 
in a ten-hour day early in 1910, the year after Model 
T went on sale. In the twenty years manufacturing 
costs had decreased so much, owing to economic meth- 
ods, that the cost of fine materials used in motor 
building was less than half of what comparatively crude 
materials had cost in 1910. Better and better machines 
had given men more and more jobs, with less drudgery, 
as the years passed. 

The road transportation boom found twenty-three 
million passenger automobiles registered in the United 
States in 1929, and the production value of the motor 
industry exceeded three and three quarters billion dol- 
lars. Motor vehicles on farms numbered more than five 
millions, including nearly a million trucks. The gasoline 
engine had revolutionized our mode of life in city and 
country, and it was estimated that motor users were 
paying special taxes of about a billion dollars annually. 



110 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Of the nearly three million miles of highways in the 
United States, more than fifty thousand miles were 
built of concrete. 

Through 1928-29 adventuring in air navigation had 
continued, and the exploits, many of them fatal, had 
an effect on the aviation industry in some measure 
comparable to the influence racing had exerted on 
motor building in the early days. In April, 1928, a 
westward voyage over the Atlantic was made for the 
first time in the plane Bremen, carrying Captain Koehl, 
Captain Fitzmaurice, and Baron von Huenefeld. Sir 
George H. Wilkins reached eight-four degrees north 
latitude by plane in the same week, and a few weeks 
later General Nobile of Italy took a dirigible across the 
North Pole. Amelia Earhart, as a passenger, was the first 
woman to fly the Atlantic, from Newfoundland to 
Wales. A non-stop flight from Italy to Brazil was made 
by Ferrarin and Del Prete. Byrd, having started in 1928 
on the first Antarctic expedition, used the airplane ex- 
tensively, flying over the South Pole in a Ford plane 
and returning home in 1930. The German dirigible 
Graf Zeppelin, Captain Eckener commanding, led the 
way in ocean crossing with a lighter-than-air passenger 
vehicle and has since repeated the achievement several 
times. Lindbergh, devoting himself to aviation as a 
business and still holding his popularity (except with a 
small number of news gatherers, whom he offended by 
showing a disinclination to encourage personal pub- 
licity), made a good- will tour to Latin America in 
1928 and has undertaken a number of notable explora- 
tions since, with never a mishap and often with his 
wife as a flying partner. Flights of 1929 included that 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY III 

of a Spanish plane, bearing Jiminez and Iglesias, from 
Seville to Brazil, and the voyage of Lotti, Assolant, and 
Lefevre in a French craft from Old Orchard Beach to 
Spain. 

The inauguration of Herbert Hoover as President in 




AT THE EDISON CELEBRATION IN 1929 

Left to right: Francis Jehl, Thomas A. Edison, President 

Hoover, and Henry ford, in the renovated Edison Laboratory 

at Dearborn. 

1929, after he had sought a rest from the labors of 
the political campaign by touring the Latin-American 
republics, was celebrated in the midst of what seemed 
on the surface to be a continuation of prosperous times; 
but the forces that soon brought financial disaster and 



112 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

social upheaval were already making themselves felt. 
Not the least of the country's troubles was the growth 
of gangster depredations in the large cities. 

The year was marked by frequent prison mutinies, 
showing the inadequacy of quarters for the increasing 
number of inmates and the weakness of laws designed 
to solve the question of crime. 

For the relief of the farmers, who had not benefited 
from the good times like most other groups, the Federal 
Farm Board was established soon after Hoover entered 
the White House. In foreign relations the peace effort 
resulting in the Kellogg-Briand Anti-War Treaty, 
pledging sixty-two powers to refrain from war as an 
instrument of national policy, seemed a notable achieve- 
ment. The new Prime Minister of Great Britain, Ramsay 
MacDonald, came to Washington to talk about naval 
armaments with President Hoover. The Russian Soviet 
government, in the meanwhile, had settled itself under 
the dictatorship of Stalin and announced its five-year 
plan of industrial and agricultural development, in- 
volving an investment of thirty-three billion dollars, an 
increase of 133 per cent in the country's industrial 
output, and 355 per cent increase in agricultural pro- 
duction. Italy and the Pope had made peace after half 
a century. The Turks had abandoned Islam as their 
official religion, and the throne of Afghanistan had been 
abdicated by three kings in a single year, leaving the 
fourth in uncertain occupancy. 

The year 1930, while it brought no joy to the specu- 
lators and their families, as they saw paper profits 
dwindling and stock-market quotations falling toward 
their ultimate depth of fifty billion dollars below the 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY II} 

boom peak, found Henry Ford distinctly on the up- 
grade. Three years after the great change in his plants, 
he was employing more men than ever before. The 
motor-making business in general held its gains. Taxes 
were growing, which did not sound well to the students 
of economics; out of every dollar spent for gasoline, 
thirty cents was a tax. Yet the optimistic citizen, as 
the evidences of bad times accumulated, said prosperity 
still lingered just around the corner. There were few 
who believed in the depression until they met it in 
person. In the automobile industry the very fact of 
rising taxes had a flattering connotation, when the 
statisticians discovered that motor-vehicle users were 
paying 18 per cent of the nation's levies on property 
valued at five and a half billion dollars while the 
railways paid only one and four-tenths per cent of 
the taxes on property appraised at twenty-five bil- 
lions. That might seem unjust, but at least it indicated 
that the automobiles were doing their big bit to keep 
the government going. 

Ford's optimism, as the reader will have observed long 
since, was of the chronic variety and was not based on 
vain hopes. His records showed that he won success in 
bad years as well as good ones. There had not been a 
time when his cars failed to sell. In 1930 he was pro- 
ceeding as confidently as before. 

We have now reorganized our companies in England, 
Germany, France, and other countries, recapitalized them 
on a very conservative basis, and sold the stock in each 
company to the citizens of the country in which it is 
situated [he wrote that year]. We retain the control of 
each company only so that it may be managed in accord- 



114 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

ance with our fundamental principles and have the benefit 
of our engineering experience. We are not at all interested 
merely in floating a number of automobile companies in 
Europe or anywhere else in the world. But we believe that 
our industrial policies move toward the end of creating 
consuming power, raising the standards of living, and thus 
diminishing poverty. In this belief we may be right or 
again we may be wrong we believe that our experience 
has proved we are right. 

In Russia a different course was being pursued, of 
necessity. For the Soviet government his company was 
erecting an automobile plant but had no concern in its 
future beyond training its men in the Ford plants, 
giving the use of blueprints and plans, and keeping the 
Russians informed of technical progress in America. 
All of this was being done at cost, and without a cent 
of interest in the investment. 

The Ford rubber venture in Brazil was pushed for- 
ward in the belief that the use of rubber would increase 
so rapidly that soon no existing source of supply would 
be able to supply even a part of the demand. "The wise 
course," Ford said, "is not to monopolize present trade 
in rubber, but to prepare for the greatly increased de- 
mand." In the Brazilian operation, as in his other 
foreign enterprises, he made no effort to gain concessions 
and privileges or to slip into a preferred position, but 
went ahead on the same basis as other industries. He still 
had to face the old criticism of "American invasion," in 
contrast to the welcome given in this country to foreign 
industries which sought to do business here. Also he 
found foreigners complaining about "American stand- 
ardization." As to that, as he has often said, he could 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY 115 

only try to prove by his products what he could not 
prove by words, that his aim was to standardize the pro- 
duction of something to make life easier rather than to 
standardize life itself. Of the results of his expansion 
abroad he wrote: 

Our company has had a measure of success in foreign 
business based on two principles: first, taking to the nations 
a commodity that they needed and the use of which as- 
sisted them to develop their own affairs, and second, an 
absolute renunciation of every form of exploitation. That 
is, our purpose was not to make American business greater 
at the expense of other nations, but to help make other 
peoples more prosperous by the aid of American business. 
There can be no other abiding basis for foreign business 
by any company or any country. And even then there will 
be no abiding relationship of seller and buyer between 
nations. International exchange of goods will always exist, 
of course, but not always of the same goods or in the same 
quantities. One great effect of American business abroad 
may be to teach our foreign customers how to supply 
themselves with the goods they now buy from us. Un- 
doubtedly many countries now more or less dependent on 
industrial countries for supply will themselves become 
sufficiently industrial to supply their own requirements. 
That is, in commercial language, we will lose the market. 
But that is all to the good. As progressive beings we should 
look forward with approval to the time when new nations 
or backward nations shall outgrow their dependence and 
feel little or no further need for us. At that time interna- 
tional trade will then settle to the natural basis of need and 
supply, each nation supplying others with that commodity 
which it is most fitted to produce. This outlook is prob- 
ably little relished by the heated salesmanship of the times, 
but it seems to be what is coming. 



Il6 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Russia came to us and asked assistance toward planting 
the automobile industry in that country, and although we 
shall have no authority or interest in the industry that will 
be established there, we readily consented on the principle 
that it is never wrong to help people to get to work and 
that the automobile is an instrument of social prosperity. 

Our other activities outside the United States were 
formerly all operated under our sole ownership, but with 
the development of industrial effort abroad we have felt 
that our factories ought to belong in part to the people of 
the countries amongst whom we were doing business. After 
consideration of all that was involved, and feeling that if 
we know what is right to do nothing remains but to do it, 
we began the organization of our business abroad on a 
partnership basis, starting with the Ford Motor Company 
of England. I am glad to say that European industrialists 
have welcomed a complete demonstration of our principles 
in the various countries, and although it is not always at 
first clear to them how they can fully approve our rate of 
wages, yet there is no doubt in my mind that the desire to 
improve the lot of Europe's workingmen is so strong in 
progressive European industrialists that a way to better 
wages will be found. It is one thing to criticize the Euro- 
pean industrialist and another thing to understand his prob- 
lems, but I am sure that industrial leadership in Europe will 
bring about much social betterment there without mere 
imitation of American ways. They are too wise to be mere 
imitators of us, for then they would have to take our de- 
fects, too, which is not desirable. 

On a site of 306 acres acquired in the previous year 
at Dagenham, eighteen miles from London, was started 
the construction of a central plant that would be the 
second largest in the world next to River Rouge. 
Dagenham manufactures, assembles, distributes, and 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY I I/ 

markets for Great Britain, Ireland, and some of the 
British possessions. With a frontage on the Thames, the 
plant has facilities for water, rail, and motor transport, 
and its principal fuel for producing 30,000 kilowatts of 
electric power is the London refuse which for hundreds 
of years was burned. In style the buildings are like those 
at River Rouge, but they were put up by British labor 
and with British materials, and all the machinery was 
built in England. The manufacturing and labor policies 
are the same as in the American factories. 

Besides the manufacturing centers in America and 
England, the smaller Ford plants, some of them used for 
manufacturing and all of them for assembly and distri- 
bution, continued active through 1930 and into 1931, 
when the depression caused a slackening. To name only 
a few of the plants which served every quarter of the 
globe, these may be listed: Buenos Aires, Lima, Monte- 
video, Sao Paulo, Pernambuco, and Santiago de Chile. 
The South American branches were linked directly with 
Dearborn and River Rouge, while in Germany, France, 
Holland, and Belgium the same policy was pursued as 
in Great Britain: the organization of separate companies, 
with part of their stock held by citizens of those coun- 
tries. 

Ford went ahead with the outside activities which had 
always interested him. Education of children and young 
men in the practical arts was one of them. He has char- 
acterized it as "education for leadership." The benefici- 
aries are residents of neighborhoods near his plants and 
experimental farms, largely the families of employees. 

Headquarters of the system are the Edison Institute of 
Technology at Dearborn and the historic exhibit known 



Il8 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

as the Greenfield Village. The village and the Edison 
Museum adjoin, forming together the laboratory in 
which are demonstrated the inventions and appliances of 
centuries. To the institute come boys and young men 
from the scattered primary schools, examples of which 
are the schools at the Wayside Inn, South Sudbury, 
Mass., and at the Greenfield Village itself, where the 
small boys and girls have classes in the same red school- 
house Ford attended as a boy. The Ford Trade School 
of the Highland Park and River Rouge plants is the 
best known link in the chain. Another, which has flour- 
ished since 1915, is the Apprentice School; when the 
problem of finding competent tool-makers became in- 
creasingly difficult, because the fashioning of precision 
tools and dies required more skill as mechanical knowl- 
edge advanced, this school was started with fifteen 
students; it has grown until as many as thirty-five 
hundred are to be seen in its classes at River Rouge. 
When business is normal, the Ford industries employ 
about two hundred thousand men, and the manufac- 
turer has taken it on himself to provide training for 
that number of families, or about a million children. 

Every pupil of the Ford schools, according to the 
theory of the system, is self-supporting from a scholar- 
ship at the start and helps at least in a measure to support 
the schools. All of them earn something each year. They 
learn self-reliance. The slowest of them acquire practical 
experience for making a living. The Ford plants and ex- 
hibitions are their textbooks in the main, though the 
study of subjects ordinarily taught up to the high-school 
grades is not neglected. 

Under experienced craftsmen the older boys learn, 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY 119 

for example, about electricity, machinery of every sort, 
the extraction of iron ore, the grinding of flour, and the 
making of an automobile from top to bottom. At the 
institute the ages range from seventeen to nineteen 
years, in the trade school from thirteen to eighteen. 
Courses are not fixed, nor methods stationary. The boy 
is taught to do what seems to suit his natural bent. 
Many graduate into jobs at the Ford plants; others go 
elsewhere, for no attempt is made to hold them longer 
than they want to stay, and the founder takes pride 
in scattering his alumni into different industries. 

The boys of the trade school, after each week spent in 
classrooms on the usual elementary subjects, spend two 
weeks in the school shops working for the Ford Motor 
Company, which pays for their output at current rates 
and accepts nothing without a thorough inspection. The 
eight-hour day is established for pupils. The pay ranges 
from twenty cents an hour for sixteen-year-olds to 
thirty-five cents for students of eighteen years. Every 
six weeks a student's record is taken, and he gets an ad- 
vance of one to three cents an hour, if his work has 
warranted it. The pupils do all the incidental work of 
caring for the school, performing janitor service, cook- 
ing and serving meals, and keeping the rooms painted 
and in good repair. 

Pay as you go, with no stopping of your education for 
lack of funds; learn to fill any one of a thousand jobs, 
with skilled teachers at your elbow and a complete ma- 
chine equipment at your command; study the subject 
that suits your temperament and ability, always in classes 
or workrooms scientifically ventilated and lighted that 
is the scheme of the Ford schools. 



120 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

The rest of the industrial world, like the Ford organ- 
ization, had not begun to feel the full force of depression 
in 1930, nor to realize it was in for a long period of 
trouble. 

A new German steamship, the Europa, made a new 
westward speed record across the Atlantic on her maiden 
voyage, crossing from Cherbourg to New York Harbor 
in four days, seventeen hours, and six minutes a record 
soon to be bettered by her previously launched sister 
ship, the Bremen, with an eastward run of four days and 
fourteen hours. In fifteen years there had been as marked 
progress in ocean passenger carriers as in automobiles, 
and with the aid of the wireless and the lessons taught 
by the Titanic disaster it seemed that science had min- 
imized marine perils. No major accidents interfered 
with the two and a quarter millions of Americans who 
traveled to foreign ports in the year. The size and 
luxury of ocean liners had increased until the regular 
Atlantic services included four steamships of more than 
fifty thousand tons, eight between forty and fifty 
thousand, and seven between thirty and forty thousand. 

Peace movements occupied the statesmen's attention. 
The Senate ratified the London Naval Reduction 
Treaty, France completed the evacuation of the Ruhr, 
and as business conditions went from bad to worse there 
was much talk of peace conferences to come. But in 
1931 Japan administered a blow to anti-militarist hopes 
by seizing large territories from China. The Smoot- 
Hawley Tariff Law of the previous year, meanwhile, 
had not been conducive to good feeling toward this 
country. 

In a decade, as the census of 1930 showed, the popu- 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY 121 

lation of the United States had grown from 105,710,- 
620 to 122,775,046. 

Airplane feats continued through the two years in 
which business was sliding downward. Major Kings- 
ford-Smith and three aides flew from Ireland to 
Newfoundland, then to Long Island and across to Cali- 
fornia, completing a round-the-world tour which had 
been begun in 1928; a British dirigible sailed to Mon- 
treal; four German aviators led by Capt. von Gronau 
voyaged from Sylt Island, in the North Sea, to the 
Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Labrador, Nova 
Scotia, and New York; Coste and Bellonte, making the 
first westward non-stop air journey to New York from 
the European continent, came from Paris in a few 
minutes over thirty-seven hours; the immense German 
seaplane DO-X crossed from the Cape Verde Islands to 
Brazil and up the coast to New York; Post and Gatty 
flew around the world, from Long Island and back 
again, a total of 15,474 miles, in less than nine days; 
Hillig and Hoiriis crossed from Newfoundland to 
Germany, and on the next day Magyar and Endress 
from Newfoundland to Hungary; Boardman and Po- 
lando broke transoceanic distance records, going from 
Brooklyn to Istanbul, Turkey; Herndon and Pangborn 
flew from Brooklyn to Wales, and on to Japan, whence, 
after they had been held on a charge of photographing 
forbidden areas, they crossed the Pacific to Wenatchee, 
Wash., and returned to Brooklyn; Colonel and Mrs. 
Lindbergh started on a round-the-world trip, reaching 
Alaska, Siberia, Japan, and China, passing over the 
Yangste River flood region, where 250,000 Chinese had 
been drowned, and returning home by steamship be- 



122 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

cause of the sudden death of Mrs. Lindbergh's father, 
Senator Dwight W. Morrow; the Graf Zeppelin made 
the first of her South Atlantic return trips; Hinkler 
flew from Brazil to Senegal in West Africa. There had 
been a major casualty of the air in each year the 
burning of the British dirigible R-IOI in France, with 
a loss of seventeen lives, and the disappearance of 
Parker D. Cramer and Oliver Parquette in the North 
Sea, after they had traveled safely from America to 
Hudson Bay, Baffin Land, Greenland, Iceland, and the 
Faroe and Shetland Islands. 

The business of commercial aviation grew by leaps. 
Europe had passenger lines reaching all the principal 
cities, and regular travel by air was ceasing to be a 
novelty. The United States was not far behind. Mails 
were carried on schedule, and passenger lines were be- 
ginning to cover the map. Among the manufacturers 
was Ford, from whose plane factory at Dearborn 
emerged massive transports. 

New concrete mileage in the United States reached 
its maximum of 9,935 miles constructed in 1930, not 
including city and town pavings, and did not fall off 
until two years later. The surfaced highways of the 
country were now 730,000 miles out of a total of more 
than 3,000,000 miles of roads; the taxes for highways 
had reached a billion and a half dollars a year, and the 
sum spent on the nation's roads was slightly in excess 
of that. There were more than 5,000,000,000 motor 
vehicles in the country, nearly 20 per cent of them 
trucks. At the same time (1930) farm tractors num- 
bered 920,000, telephones on farms more than 2,000,- 
ooo, and radios on farms far over 1,000,000. State 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY 123 

gasoline taxes exceeded $500,000,000. Ninety-nine 
thousand buses were in operation on our roads. 

Toward the end of 1930 it became evident, except 
to the most optimistic or the least informed, that de- 
pressed business conditions had come to stay a while. 
A conspicuous episode in the wake of the speculative 
craze was the collapse of the Bank of the United States, 
in New York City, as a result of which depositors and 
stockholders lost millions. Unemployment increased 
alarmingly. The government became a machine for 
devising preventive measures to ward off further trou- 
ble, and the good or bad results of such devices are 
still a topic of discussion. 

From the beginning of bad times Henry Ford dis- 
sented from the theory that prices should be forced up 
and wages generally cut, and that output should be 
curtailed by agreement or law. He repeated his belief 
that a company which failed to meet market conditions, 
good or bad, had itself to blame. Bad management, not 
outside forces, was the cause of business decline, he 
insisted, and there was something the matter with an 
industry's service and leadership if it collapsed. He 
blamed the speculative mania for the industrial troubles, 
for the stoppage of improvement in manufactured 
goods and the failure to improve manufacturing 
methods. Proper leadership, he argued, would effect 
economies in order to lower prices, instead of raising 
them. 

"There has been no overproduction of quality goods, 
for which a market still exists and always will exist," he 
declared. "Never had there been overproduction in the 



124 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

true sense that it resulted in no market for needed 
goods at the lowest possible prices." 

That continued to be his viewpoint as the depression 
progressed. How rapidly it progressed, here and in other 
countries, is recalled by a few outstanding incidents: 
Popular unrest caused the overthrow of governments in 
Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil in 1930, and of 
Spain, Peru (a second time), Chile, Paraguay, and Sal- 
vador in 1931. On June 20, 1931, President Hoover 
proposed the moratorium on intergovernmental debts, 
after conditions in Germany had become so demoralized 
that they threatened the world's financial systems. This 
was the White House's first open avowal indicating that 
the situation was getting out of hand. 

In the following August the Labor Ministry resigned 
in England, but Ramsay MacDonald kept the helm of 
the new regime backed by a union of the older parties, 
which overwhelmed the laborites at the polls. In Sep- 
tember Great Britain suspended the gold standard, an 
example soon followed by the nations dependent on 
London for their financial policies. The Premier of 
France journeyed to Washington to confer with Presi- 
dent Hoover in October, and a month later came the 
Italian Foreign Minister. 

As the year drew to a close, the Ford Motor Company 
was naturally feeling the pressure, and Henry Ford 
was already making preparations for another new car 
a "universal car" again that would be able to 
weather bad times as long as they might last and to 
ride the tide into the new good times which were sure 
to come. However, the year which brought disaster to 
many businesses had seen his company still moving for- 



THE REBUILDING OF AN INDUSTRY 125 

ward, with five new assembly plants built, production 
started by the English at Dagenham, and the twenty- 
millionth Ford automobile turned out of the River 
Rouge factory. 

This twenty-millionth car Model A improved by 
four years of technical changes, more spacious, with a 
longer wheelbase, a lower hung chassis, and a heavier 
frame made a tour of the United States and was 
greeted with noisy celebrations everywhere. Though the 
public was not aware of it, Ford had been experiment- 
ing more than a year on an eight-cylinder engine at his 
Dearborn laboratory. In fact, he had been thinking 
about an eight-cylinder motor for reasonably priced 
cars as far back as 1921. The time was not yet ripe 
for its appearance, he decided, so he put the latest four- 
cylinder into production for the 1932 trade. Not even 
his closest associates expected the sudden change of 
plan which was to be ordered a few months afterward. 



VII 
A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE V-8 



A 



.T THE BEGINNING OF 1932 the world had accom- 
modated itself to motor traffic on nearly nine million 
miles of highways, of which more than two fifths were 
in the United States and Canada. Unrest and unem- 
ployment were having less effect on motor-making and 
road-building than on other industries, though they 
also were suffering. Political disturbances and a prev- 
alence of nostrums for remedying business were evident 
everywhere. 

Henry Ford, although he had spent a long time ex- 
perimenting with the eight-cylinder engine and in 
making up his mind when to produce it, acted quickly 
when he reached a decision. He gave notice in February 
that he intended to offer an eight but would continue 
to manufacture the four-cylinder Model A. In March 
he appeared at his laboratory one morning, spent a few 
hours with his principal aides from River Rouge, and 
ordered them to stop production in the plants imme- 
diately. His men were taken completely by surprise, as 
was the public when an announcement was made of 
the sudden move. Only Ford himself was not excited. 
The hundred millions of dollars he had spent recasting 
his plants and machinery in preparation for Model A 
were to be regarded only as an investment in experience, 
along with current deficits in a falling market and the 

126 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 127 

huge outlay about to be undertaken in launching the 
eight-cylinder car. It was no time for wistful waiting. 
Ford did not like a falling market, and something had 
to be done about it. 

"Yes, we are going to keep prices down so that the 
public can buy our cars," was his complacent answer 
to a newspaper man's question, at a time when the 
business community's chorus was a lament over the 
people's lost buying power. "We shall continue to make 
the four-cylinder model. The eight is only two fours, 
you know." 

While plant reorganization for the added product 
was costly, the change did not begin to compare with 
that of 1927. Only sections of factories, not whole 
plants, had to be left idle during new installations of 
machinery. The eight-cylinder car, known as the V-8, 
was introduced gradually, beginning within a month. 

On the principle that a fine appearance and a max- 
imum of comfort had come to be necessities rather than 
luxuries in automobiles, the V-8 was the handsomest of 
Ford creations. For the first time a V-type of engine, 
with 65 horsepower, was put in a low-priced car; but, 
like all Ford engines, it was simple in design, each of the 
two four-cylinder banks being cast in a single piece 
with the crankcase. An automatic spark, synchronized 
gear shifting, rubber mountings at scores of points to 
lessen noise, a double-drop frame, and rustless steel were 
among the features of the car, which was advertised as 
the last word in economical maintenance. And it was 
capable of great speed. Both the eight and the four 
continued in quantity production through the year. 
Each was offered in fourteen body styles. Their appear- 



128 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

ance on the market, incidentally, followed close on the 
heels of two new types of the Lincoln, the company's 
more expensive product, whose engines were now built 
with eight or twelve cylinders. 

When the V-8 was put on display, March 3ist, be- 
tween five and six million people visited the Ford show- 
rooms, and on April 9th the Governor of Michigan 
attended a celebration, with a banquet and ball, at 
Dearborn. The prices ranged from $460 to $650 for the 
V-8, and from $410 to $600 for the Model A. Other 
achievements of the year included the opening of new 
assembly plants at Seattle, Mexico City, and Amster- 
dam, Holland, and service branches at Alexandria, Va., 
and Lisbon, Portugal. 

So the latest "universal car" got started on its career, 
in spite of general business conditions that went from 
bad to worse, although the statistics showed that thirty- 
three and a half million motor vehicles were now regis- 
tered in the world, two thirds of them in this country. 

In that year of 1932 the world went through some 
novel and unpleasant experiences. The Brazilian govern- 
ment burned or sank in the ocean millions of bags of 
coffee in an effort to lift prices. Groups of unemployed 
marched to Washington. Italy ordered the death 
penalty for violators of emergency laws. The two- 
billion-dollar Reconstruction Finance Corporation bill 
was passed by Congress and signed by President Hoover. 
Cabinet after cabinet rose and fell in France. Continued 
revolutionary outbreaks and strikes kept Spain in a 
state bordering on anarchy, and the new republican 
rulers confiscated all Church property. Reparation con- 
ferences dragged on, without the payment of war debts. 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 129 

The Japanese invaded Shanghai, alleging a Chinese boy- 
cott of Japanese goods, and defied the League of 
Nations, from which they subsequently withdrew. The 
first World Conference on Disarmament opened at 
Genoa. 

No sensation of our day has equaled the kidnaping of 
the Lindbergh baby, on March ist, and after more than 
two years the United States Secret Service is still trying 
to track down the child's murderers. Kidnapings in- 
creased, and the other numerous "rackets" of the under- 
world prospered. 

The United States Senate voted a stock exchange 
inquiry which was to last beyond the Hoover Admin- 
istration. Henry Pu Yi, former Chinese Emperor, was 
installed as "dictator" of the new state of Manchukuo, 
while the Japanese continued to run its affairs. Ivar 
Kreuger, his chain of trusts on the verge of collapse, 
committed suicide. Hindenburg was reflected President 
of the German Reich, defeating Hitler. J. P. Morgan 
made a radio speech, urging support for the block plan 
to relieve the unemployed. President Hoover repeated 
his demands for governmental economies. Great Britain 
doubled her general 10 per cent tariff. Civil war 
ravaged China, which was helpless against continued 
invasions by Japan. Paul Doumer, the new President of 
France, was assassinated, and Albert Lebrun was elected 
to succeed him. President Hoover, insisting that Con- 
gress balance the budget, issued a public attack on the 
lobbyists swarming over Washington. 

Amelia Earhart Putnam, flying alone, took her plane 
from Newfoundland to Ireland, and other daring 
flights followed. Colonel von Papen succeeded Bruening 



130 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

as German Chancellor. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., hith- 
erto a supporter of National Prohibition, announced 
that he had decided it was a failure. The "bonus army" 
camped in Washington. The United States government 
reported a financial deficit of nearly three billion dollars 
at the close of the fiscal year in June. Congress, before 
adjourning in July, adopted the two-billion-dollar un- 
employment relief bill and a system of home loan 
discount banks. The St. Lawrence Waterway Treaty 
was signed by the United States and Canada. Mayor 
"Jimmy" Walker of New York resigned while under 
charges. A second son was born to the Lindberghs. 
Farmers went on strike in the Middle West, preventing 
delivery of foodstuffs. Two hundred thousand cotton 
operatives struck in England. "Hunger marchers" 
rioted in London, and many were injured by police 
clubs. 

War in the Chaco region between Bolivia and Peru 
grew into a relentless struggle, destined to continue for 
years. President Hoover notified European nations that 
the United States could not agree to a postponement of 
their debt payments. Another Cabinet overturn in Ger- 
many resulted in the brief Chancellorship of General 
von Schleicher. France defaulted on her debt payment 
to the United States, and Premier Herriot resigned; 
other defaulters were Belgium, Hungary, Poland, and 
Esthonia, while payments were made by Great Britain, 
Italy, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Lithuania, and Latvia. 

The Presidential campaign, the bitterest in a genera- 
tion, did nothing to contribute toward restoring calm 
at home or abroad. For the greater part of the year, 
starting with the preliminary skirmishes before the 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 131 

party conventions and ending on Election Day in No- 
vember, it added recurrent irritation to the uncertainty 
of industry, employers and employed alike. 

After President Hoover announced his candidacy for 
reelection, his renomination by the Republicans was 
assured, despite grumblings in the party. The Demo- 
cratic camp, on the contrary, remained in a turmoil 
until the convention named Franklin D. Roosevelt, 
with John N. Garner as his running mate. There was 
never any serious doubt of a Democratic victory. The 
voters of the country were determined on a change of 
administration, and Mr. Roosevelt soon had their con- 
fidence. 

The contest developed differences of opinion over 
policies toward business and over the liquor question, 
with Roosevelt for outright prohibition repeal and 
Hoover favoring action by the different states to suit 
themselves. Roosevelt announced that he was for a 
"New Deal," the rescue of the "Forgotten Man," and 
"social justice through social action." He accused the 
opposition of spreading "the gospel of fear" and said 
he was fighting "the four horsemen of distress, delay, 
deceit, and despair." Hoover, as the grueling' contro- 
versy drew to a close, said that if the Democratic tariff 
were put into effect the grass would grow "in the streets 
of a hundred cities." The election betting was seven to 
one against the Republicans, and on November 4th the 
vote for Roosevelt exceeded 22,000,000, while Hoover's 
was below 16,000,000. 

From Election Day until the inauguration in the 
following March, efforts were made by Hoover to form 
an alliance with Roosevelt for the solution of pending 



132 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

difficulties. They had meetings in the White House at 
the President's invitation, but the President-elect 
thought it wise to assume no responsibility for shaping 
new policies or amending old ones until his installation 
as Chief Executive. 

Meanwhile, business lagged, and the country waited. 
There were, of course, exceptional cases of industrial 
leaders who devoted their energies to combating the 
prevailing pessimism with constructive activities. One 
of them was Ford. He pushed his new car with all the 
ingenuity he possessed and said little. What he did say 
was by way of repetition of his old belief that the 
public would always find a way of buying what it 
needed, if the price was right. 

The stamina of the V-8 was put to the test on a 
io,ooo-mile run by Eddie Pullen, a professional driver. 
He traveled at the rate of 1,000 miles a day, averaging 
48 miles an hour for the whole distance, making 18.35 
miles to the gallon of gasoline, using only one and a half 
pints of oil each day, and adding only five and one half 
quarts of water to the radiator during the whole ten- 
days' run. Gross sales for the year were nearly $259,- 
000,000. But they had exceeded $462,000,000 in 1931, 
and $873,000,000 in 1930, and in 1929 they had risen 
above $1,000,000,000. 

The annual round-up of figures for the motor indus- 
try in 1932 showed, among a hundred other details, 
that the number of buses in the country had increased 
to 105,000, that 96 per cent of passenger cars were of 
the closed type, and that 62 per cent of automobiles 
were purchased by persons with incomes below $3,000 
a year. 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 133 

An improved V-8, the second of its family, was 
brought out at the beginning of 1933. With a 75 horse- 
power engine, it could run 84 miles an hour. Again 
there were fourteen different styles. The car had a 
longer wheelbase. Its body, all steel, was roomier. Stress 
was laid upon the aluminum cylinder heads and the 
X-type frame. Safety glass was in all windshields, and 
the de luxe models were equipped with it throughout, 
besides having cowl lights, two tail lights, and two 
horns. Ford, having gone in for decorative finish, was 
not forgetting any of the fine touches. The price range 
was $475 to $610. At the same time the new V-8 
trucks were put on sale, from $320 to $500. 

We have never yet had a sufficient production of all the 
things which the family needs [ran a public statement over 
Ford's signature]. It would be splendid if the world should 
seriously attempt to overproduce everything that every- 
body needs. We should then discover that our present ma- 
chine facilities could not even catch up with the need. Give 
the world a money system that makes it easier for goods to 
flow from man to man, and all the factories on earth could 
not begin to supply a tenth of the demand. 

Always adept at short phrases in appealing to his 
market, he said: 

We do not build a low-price car. The cost to us of build- 
ing our car is pretty expensive. But we do build a high- 
quality car at a low price. 

Also he was now turning out his higher priced car, 
the Lincoln, with different wheelbases, 136 and 145 



134 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

inches; but, as he had often said, this automobile was 
not designed for a commodity. His salesmanship talents 
were still devoted to the "universal car." 

In a series of signed advertisements he rang the 
changes on the economic operation of the V-8, "the 
only eight-cylinder car at a low price with the qualifi- 
cation of the high-priced eight-cylinder cars." A Ford 
entry in a California race made an official record of 
79.21 miles an hour for 235 miles. Before the year's 
end twenty-six of the thirty-two assembly plants in the 
United States had closed, as well as the blast furnaces, 
steel mills, and glass plant, and production was reduced 
to the rate of 400,000 cars a year. The capacity of the 
vast system of plants was still two million cars a year. 
Ford concluded that it might be unwise for an organ- 
ization to thresh itself to tatters in an attempt to 
stimulate business. He turned to the task of consolidat- 
ing his organization and further improving his product, 
in preparation for the time when the business situation 
should improve. "No use being all worn out when the 
tide turns," he said. "Take it easy and get ready." 

It was at this stage that the great furore arose over 
N. R. A., as the department administering the National 
Industrial Recovery Act came to be called. But much 
had happened before attention centered on that most 
controversial phase of the New Deal. 

The immediate result of Roosevelt's inaugural ad- 
dress, with its keynote of "action, and action now," was 
an extraordinary burst of optimism throughout the 
country. The change of administrations had a pro- 
found effect on the mental state of the people. Pessi- 
mism had pervaded all parts of the country, with the 



"UNIVERSAL CAR" 



AGAIN: THE v-8 135 



banks closed in most states and business almost at a 
standstill, but that President Roosevelt immediately 
won tremendous popularity was not gainsaid anywhere. 
As in all national crises, the excitement over a new 
order subsided by degrees, and the country settled down 




LUNCH HOUR AT FORD HEADQUARTERS 

The inventor, -with his son and chief aides, at a regular daily 

meeting. 

to working and watching. Spirited action, meanwhile, 
began at Washington immediately after the inaugura- 
tion, with the closing of all banks and stock exchanges, 
accompanied by the gold embargo and the requisition- 
ing of private gold holdings. Without delay Congress, 
with few dissenting voices, adopted a series of measures 
giving the President temporary dictatorial power over 



136 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA. 

finance and business and authorizing him to cut half 
a billion dollars from federal expenses. The Senate 
and House quickly acceded to his request for the legal- 
ization of beer sales. In less than a fortnight 13,541 of 
the 17,600 banks in the country were open again, "con- 
servators" were in charge of many depositories to get 
their affairs in shape, and recovery seemed surely under 
way. 

Legislative and executive orders in pursuance of the 
"New Deal" followed one another daily, and on several 
occasions the President talked informally over the radio, 
telling the citizenry what he was doing. The reforesta- 
tion plan was established to give work to a quarter of a 
million men. The farm relief and the half-billion-dollar 
unemployment relief bills were passed without much 
opposition. The government took control of Muscle 
Shoals. Investigation of stock exchanges was continued 
by the Senate and resulted in the passage of the control 
bill. 

The National Industrial Recovery Act was passed by 
Congress just before it adjourned for the summer. 
General Hugh S. Johnson was appointed administrator 
over the country's industries under the recovery law, 
and a new word or an old word with a new meaning 
entered the American vocabulary. Code! For each 
industry a code was prescribed. The codification began 
with the larger manufacturing and production lines, 
such as motorcars, steel, oil, textiles, lumber, building, 
and railroads, but extended all the way down to the 
smallest groups. Less than a year after General John- 
son took hold, Washington reported 400 codes signed, 
and the pending hearings on regulatory agreements 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 137 

were attended by a variety of business specialists, in- 
cluding the Corset and Brassiere Manufacturers, the 
Men's Garter Makers, and representatives of two hun- 
dred other lines. 

Along with N. R. A. were brought into being a score 
or more other major bureaus, each of which came to 
be known by its initials. The Agricultural Adjustment 
Administration, designed to improve the farmers' con- 
dition, ranked next to N. R. A. in cost and scope. 

President Roosevelt signed the Cotton Textile Code 
on July 9th, abolishing child labor and fixing minimum 
wages. Critics of N. R. A. contended in the main that 
the government was overstepping its function in inter- 
fering with private business and initiative, that regi- 
mentation of American industry was contrary to the 
law and spirit of the country, and that the small 
business man in particular was being imposed upon by 
a system in which he had no chance to combat the 
competition of corporate wealth. The President had 
said at the start of his administration that he expected 
to make mistakes and would not hesitate to rectify 
them. Drastic revisions of the act in 1934 were doubt- 
less in pursuance of this reassuring statement. 

At the height of the mass enthusiasm for N. R. A. 
the automobile industry, after much discussion, signed 
a code, and the country was startled to discover that 
Henry Ford was not among the signers. No official 
statement has ever come from Ford or the Ford Motor 
Company as to the reason for this attitude. It is, 
however, sufficiently known that Ford's decision was 
not without the weightiest reasons. It may be said that 
he reached his decision alone. Those who believed that 



138 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

he was right had little confidence that it could be made 
to appear to the American buying public that he was 
right. Ford's refusal to oppose the President by explain- 
ing his own position added to that fear. Talk of "boy- 
cott" and "cracking down" was rife in the country, 
and well organized attempts were made to make it 
seem unpatriotic to buy a Ford car. Ford's silence to this 
day is known to have been dictated by a desire to do 
nothing which could be construed as hindering in any 
degree the President's plan. It was as if Ford had said 
to himself, "The President must do what he thinks is 
right without hindrance, and I can only do what I think 
is right." 

Ford's attitude rested on what he considered sound 
bases in reason and fact. He believed that the suspension 
of anti-trust laws and the suppression of honest com- 
petition was un-American and basically injurious to 
American progress. He believed that N. R. A. was 
unconstitutional, but he was not at all concerned to test 
it in the courts the President must be left free to 
work his own plans as far as they could be made to 
work. Ford the engineer knew that nothing can be 
made to work by decree; it must be of right design. 
He believed, moreover, that the law as laid down by 
the government must be obeyed by every citizen, and 
it was admitted on all sides that not only did Ford com- 
ply with N. R. A. requirements, but exceeded them 
in all particulars. He had been exceeding them for 
years. A saying attributed to him at the time was, "If 
I lived up to N. R. A., I would have to live down to it." 
And lastly he believed that signing a code was no part 
of the law, and that in refusing to sign a code he was 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 139 

not resisting the law nor the recovery program at any 
point. In June, 1934, the government itself conceded 
this point by announcing that all non-signers of codes 
who were complying with the law were entitled to fly 
the Blue Eagle. At the same time, however, an executive 
order which made it impossible for any Ford dealer to 
sell cars to the government remained, rather illogically, 
in effect. 

The justice and American character of Ford's stand 
soon became apparent to the nation at large, and 
threats of "boycott" and "cracking down" ceased to be 
heard. It was a tribute to a man who did his own think- 
ing and was willing to take heavy losses rather than 
compromise on principle. His absolute silence on the 
question, his refusal of every offer of the widest pub- 
licity for any word of self-defense he might consent to 
utter at the most critical hour of concentrated opposi- 
tion to him, could only have been based on his 
confidence in the ability of the people to understand his 
position. This and his refusal by any word of his to 
oppose the President's program, constitute the entire 
available explanation of one of the most daring in- 
stances of individual action in recent American history. 
To this, of course, must be added Henry Ford's thirty 
years' insistence on social justice and the New Deal for 
American workingmen, all of which have been part of 
his personal management of the Ford Motor Company. 

Among the important happenings of 1933 outside 
of the United States government's activities, which 
dwarfed all other news were the continued moves of 
Japan for extension of their domain into Chinese areas, 
the death of ex-President Coolidge, riots in Spain, the 



140 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

institution of long-distance electric train service on the 
Pennsylvania Railroad from New York to Philadelphia, 
ratification of the "Lame Duck" Constitutional amend- 
ment providing that Congress would hereafter hold a 
single regular annual session beginning in January, the 
election of De Valera as President of the Irish Free 
State, Hitler's accession to the chancellorship and prac- 
tical dictatorship of Germany, the attempt of an assas- 
sin on President-elect Roosevelt shortly before his 
inauguration, Congress's vote to submit the prohibition 
question to State conventions and ratification of the 
repeal amendment within less than a year, the wreck 
of the United States Navy dirigible Akron with a loss 
of seventy-two lives, "token payments" on the June 
installments of war debts by several nations, and full 
payment by Finland alone, unproductive sessions of the 
World Disarmament Conference at Geneva, the meet- 
ing of the World Economic Conference in London, 
periodic labor strikes, the naval building program to 
cost $130,000,000, the Cuban revolution, Germany's 
withdrawal from the League of Nations and Disarma- 
ment Conference, New York City's departure from her 
custom of electing a Tammany mayor, and the United 
States' recognition of the Russian Soviet Union. 

Aviation records had ceased to be novelties in 1933, 
but the flyers continued their adventures. Wiley Post, 
traveling alone, flew the 15,596 miles of the Northern 
route around the world in less than eight days. Colonel 
and Mrs. Lindbergh made the circle, stopping in many 
lands and studying routes from the viewpoint of prac- 
tical transport service. James Mattern's journey around 
the earth was completed after accidents and delays. 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 141 

Ocean crossings included that of General Italo Balbo, 
Italian War Minister, and his fleet of fourteen seaplanes, 
which visited the Chicago Exposition and returned 
home by way of the Azores; a record non-stop flight 
from New York to Syria, 5,653 miles, by Rossi and 
Codos, the same Frenchmen who in 1934 were to 




*** 



A Ford tri-motor plane. 

make the second successful flight westward from the 
Continent to New York; trips over the South Atlantic 
by two planes, piloted by Mermoz, a Frenchman, and 
Skarzinski, a Pole; the flight of James A. Mollinson 
and his wife (Amy Johnson) from Wales to Connecti- 
cut, ending in a forced landing at Bridgeport, and 
the ill-fated venture of Barbera and Collar, Spanish 
army officers, who flew to Cuba and then disappeared 
on the way to Mexico. British aviators took two planes 



142 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

over Mount Everest. The world's air speed record of 
423.7 miles an hour was made by Francesco Agello, an 
Italian warrant officer. 

Ford had slowed down in manufacturing airplanes. 
Although Ford ships have flown 1,500,000 miles in Ford 
service, and over 24,000,000 miles in the service of the 
various airlines, and though at the end of the year air 
transport lines stretched over 26,221 miles in this 
country and 19,875 miles abroad, Ford had ideas con- 
cerning progress in aviation which had never been 
satisfied. His suspension of active interest is probably 
temporary; his associates say he will go into aircraft 
production again if he can produce something that he 
considers an advance step in aviation. Meanwhile his 
airport builds a Ford plane to order and makes repairs 
of ships in service, for which he keeps his shops ready 
at all times. Ford ships rank high in safety and relia- 
bility, though recently they have been exceeded as to 
speed. 

With the new year of 1934, the industries of the 
country, while showing a measurable improvement, 
were not all making enough gains to boast about. There 
were still dark spots on the prosperity map. However, 
unemployment had decreased, profits were again the 
order in many factories, and prospects were rosier 
nearly everywhere. At the close of 1933 the Ford pro- 
duction had shown a slow increase, with the gross sales 
for the year somewhat better. 

Of a sudden, the whole picture changed at Dearborn 
in the first month of 1934. The millions and the 
thought it had cost to get through the past two years 
were forgotten in the enthusiasm of Ford's department 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 143 

heads over the increased output in January 57,575 
cars, or 25 per cent more than had been planned when 
the year opened. It was the greatest monthly output 
since June, 1932. Forty-one million dollars went for 
wages and materials, an increase of 50 per cent in wages 
and 300 per cent in materials over the previous January. 
The assembly plants in Norfolk, Va., and Dallas, Tex., 
were reopened, and others got into action soon after- 
ward. Nearly two years had been needed to establish 
the V-8, but apparently it had now "arrived." 

Having introduced his third eight-cylinder model in 
December, Ford soon let the country know what the 
"universal car" of 1934 was like. Along with much 
printed advertising, he started his first radio broadcast, 
which, as Edsel Ford announced in a talk at the micro- 
phone, was intended to be an agreeable concert for the 
air audience and not a mere excuse for intrusive 
speeches on the Ford product. 

The new car was the only one with a V-type engine 
and eight cylinders selling below $2,000. While prices 
were raised $5.00 to $35, owing to increased costs, the 
roadster was offered for $525 and the most expensive 
of the eleven styles, the victoria, at $610. This de luxe 
vehicle had two unique new features, a divided three- 
passenger front seat and a large luggage compartment 
in the rear. There were other types no .less luxurious. 
All the models had the dual carburetor and dual intake, 
the X-frame, the longer wheelbase, and the aluminum 
cylinder heads. Betterments in engine details had in- 
creased the speed, acceleration, and mileage capacity, 
which was twenty miles to a gallon at a forty-five-mile 
speed. Thermostats in the water lines enabled the engine 



144 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

to heat up more quickly and to maintain the right 
temperature. Oil consumption was reduced. The ven- 
tilating system was designed to let in air without 
drafts. 

By the end of February sales in Wayne County, 
which includes Detroit, were three times those of any 
other car in the low-price field. In the Gilmore race for 
stock cars at Los Angeles, twenty-two of the twenty-six 
entrants drove Fords, and ten of them took the first ten 
places, the winner averaging 62.367 miles an hour over 
a track that was nearly all curves. Previously on a 
straighter course a V-8 had averaged 80.22 miles an 
hour. 

All this was big news at River Rouge and the other 
Ford plants. The newspaper columns at the time were 
filled with echoes of the Presidential order canceling 
air-mail contracts, the multitude of investigations in 
progress or proposed, rumors of wars, scandals of 
politics, the ramifications of N. R. A., and other 
matters remote from southern Michigan. But politics, 
government policies, the record-breaking February 
snowfalls, and the news of the world in general were 
of small concern at River Rouge by comparison with 
the charts which showed production rising up and up. 

Ford made another quick decision that month to 
put on a great show at the Century of Progress Exposi- 
tion in Chicago. The fair, having closed one successful 
run, was scheduled to open again in May, and it was 
no simple matter to prepare an exhibit costing $2,000,- 
ooo in so short a time. Not a piece of the steel frame 
was on the site by the end of the month, but in less 
than sixty days the framework of the Ford building 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 145 

was finished. The structure was a sixth of a mile long, 
on an eleven-acre plot facing Lake Michigan. Into its 
halls and galleries were brought the inventor's treasured 
museum pieces showing transportation development 
through the centuries. On the grounds was laid out an 
oval track paved in sections to reproduce bits of road 
representative of the ages, from Roman cobblestones 
down to the concrete of today. Ample space was left 
for a miniature experimental soy bean farm, a prome- 
nade along the waterfront, graceful terraces, and an 
outdoor concert enclosure in which to seat a large 
orchestra and audience. 

The Chicago exhibit plan was a multiple of the show 
idea which had been used in a smaller way at various 
places. In the Seattle assembly plant, for example, a 
recent exhibition had included a Russian droshky four 
hundred years old, a London cab, a Paris landau, and 
an Oriental rickshaw. At Dearborn the permanent 
museum of the Edison Institute had been growing for 
years, and from there came the antiques and machines 
for the Exposition building. In the operating depart- 
ments of the exhibit at the Century of Progress, all dis- 
plays exemplify the idea that the materials which 
form the automobile come from the earth and are fabri- 
cated by the ingenuity of man into a vehicle that carries 
him over the surface of the earth. Many of the exhibits 
start with the basic iron, cotton and copper in their 
raw form and show the actual methods by which the 
raw material is wrought into the finished part. 

On March 13, 1934, after having made scattered in- 
creases of wages in the last year, Ford announced a 
restoration of the minimum basic daily rate of $5.00, 



146 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

affecting 47,000 of the 70,000 workers then in his 
plants. It was the first blanket raise since December, 
1929, when the minimum went from $6.00 to $7.00. In 
disclosing his move, he warned workingmen against 
flocking to River Rouge. 

"This is not a call for workers," he said. "Plenty of 
Detroit automobile employees are still out of work. We 
must take care of them first." He had been obliged to 
make a reduction of wages in 1931. "That was the 
hardest thing I ever had to do," he remarked. 

For a few days he was besieged by interviewers. How 
was it possible, asked one of them, to keep his car prices 
down while labor and materials were going up? His 
reply was the old one: "When prices go up, business 
goes down." Higher wages were not an additional cost 
under proper management, he explained, for the better 
paid workman was more willing and efficient. As to the 
cost of materials well, if the producers from whom he 
bought goods charged too much for them, he would 
make them for himself, as he had done before! Mean- 
while, employment figures were rising, until in May 
the average number of workers at River Rouge was 
48,000 a day, and in the domestic branches 25,000 a 
day. 

The River Rouge Plant, which is three miles from 
Ford's headquarters in the laboratory at Dearborn and 
within sight of the road into Detroit, was again its old 
self in the spring of 1934. Production there and in the 
ten other plants now in operation was at the rate of 
90,000 cars a month in May, or more than 1,000,000 a 
year. A constant procession of sightseers, of whom 
185,000 pour into the gates and are guided through the 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 147 




Open-hearth furnaces at River Rouge. 



maze annually, witnessed a scene of bewildering activity 
and went away dazed by the effort of trying to com- 
prehend the interwoven activities of blast furnaces, 
open-hearth furnaces, coke ovens, assembly lines, test- 
ing shops, the rolling mill, the foundry, miles of railway 
tracks, and waterfront docks lined with steamships, 
tugs, and all the paraphernalia of handling two million 
tons of ore and coal and other materials shipped into 
the place in a twelvemonth. 

Interspersed among the buildings, some of them long 
low structures, others rising high into the air with still 
higher smokestacks, the visitors saw plots of grass as 
smooth as Ford's own lawn in Dearborn, while over the 



148 



THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 



network of concrete roads constant lines of motor 
trucks passed, supplementing the railway cars and 
steamships in moving freight to and from the plant. To 
tour the two square miles on foot would require many 
days. Moving rapidly in one of the company's service 
cars, a personally conducted guest is enabled to glimpse 
the high spots with the aid of inclined roadways, on 
which the car darts up to second-floor levels, along 
avenues of giant machinery, and out again to the 
ground. This system of ramps was constructed just be- 
fore President Hoover went to Dearborn for the Edison 
Jubilee in 1929, but he lingered so long in Ford's his- 
toric village that he had no time to visit the plant. 
The favored visitor must walk when he inspects the 




Blast furnaces in the world's largest automobile plant. 






UNIVERSAL CAR AGAIN: THE V-8 149 

foundry, where he wonders at the perfection of cleanli- 
ness and order amid so much noise of machinery and 
such a horde of workers. Not a murky windowpane, 
not a heap of litter is to be seen. The guide explains 
things as they pass through, but the scene changes so 
fast that one remembers only a succession of machines 
and artisans. The casting of the V-8 cylinder block in 
one piece, an achievement unknown until Ford con- 
trived it, stands out among a welter of unaccustomed 
impressions. 

Eventually the sightseer's path leads past the assembly 
lines, more than twenty-five miles of them. They move 
with never a pause, each conveyor at the proper speed 
for the adjustment of the part it is bearing toward the 
final assembly. Passing from the foundry to the machine 
shop, one watches the cylinder blocks grabbed by 
monster machines that drill eighty-six holes into them 
in one operation, and marvels at a hundred other opera- 
tions performed on schedule to the split second. Finally, 
in the main assembly line, which is nearly a thousand 
feet long, the complete car is put together; having 
started as a bare frame, it collects its parts as it moves 
along. The radiator is lifted on and fastened down, the 
engine bolted into place, the wheels attached. The on- 
looker becomes so absorbed in watching one operation 
that the next one takes place before he can see it. At 
last he stops to look at what seems to the uninitiated 
the most striking incident of the tour the fitting of a 
completed car body on the chassis. 

Through an aperture overhead appears the body, 
hanging on a big hook at the end of a chain. It is 
painted and upholstered. Probably it has come from the 



150 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Briggs or the Murray works, which make most Ford 
bodies. It is one of a line that has been moving with 
unbroken precision up an incline, from a point several 
hundred feet away, to its position over the assembly 
line. After it is hitched to the chain, it descends with 
ponderous deliberation to meet the oncoming chassis. 
Workmen on each side push it gently into place as it 
swings in air. With a slight thud it settles on the frame. 
Men with tools poised are ready to bolt it on tight. 
Slowly then the car moves forward, while another body 
descends from above to meet another chassis. 

About a minute after this procedure, a finished V-8 
moves off the line under its own power and goes on its 
way maybe to Detroit, or into one of the new levia- 
than trucks which take the cars assembled at River 
Rouge to cities within a radius of several hundred miles, 
as well as carrying parts to assembly branches within 
that range. The installation of the truck transport serv- 
ice is one of the new developments of the past year, and 
it has supplanted short-distance hauling by railway so 
far as Ford is concerned. 

Another new activity is the reconditioning of used 
motors, at a cost of less than fifty dollars each. Arriving 
at the factory, the old engines traverse a "disassembly" 
line of their own, on which the process of taking them 
to pieces is exactly the reverse of the upbuilding process 
in the motor assembly line. Up to March, 1934, the re- 
conditioning department had handled nearly thirty- 
nine thousand V-8 engines and more than one hundred 
and thirty-five thousand Model A motors. 

What is known at River Rouge as the "reincarnation 
department" is a third novelty. It occurred to Ford that 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 151 





I 



I II IIP ~^^^i 

i !!!5^ 




Truck transports for cars and materials. 



THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 





Junked cars and the "Reincarnation Department." 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 153 

a vast quantity of waste resulted from junked cars, cast 
aside after they were beyond repairing. By finding a use 
for them, he could accomplish three things worth while 
he could get them out of the automobile junk yards 
that had been unsightly spots near cities and towns, he 
could pay the owners a little money for something 
which was otherwise worth nothing, and he could fur- 
nish employment to a considerable number of work- 
men. A wreck is stripped until only its steel is left, and 
then, after being compressed in the largest bailing ma- 
chines ever built, it is charged into an open-hearth 
furnace. One of the sights of a ride through the open- 
hearth building is the reincarnation of a junked car. 
Out of the furnaces, the glare from which is so daz- 
zling that one look at it brings tears to the eyes, pours 
molten steel which is cast into cigar-shaped ingots a 
dozen feet long all that remains of the once proud 
lord of the roads. Traveling through one press after an- 
other, on a trip perhaps a fifth of a mile long, the ingots 
are mashed into strips that look like railroad rails, and 
from them are fashioned various small parts for use in 
new cars. The expense of all this yields no saving as 
compared with making the parts from new metal. The 
"reincarnation department" is not a profit maker, but 
it pays its way. 

On the trip through the River Rouge plant and ex- 
perimental laboratories, one sees so much that it is im- 
possible to remember a tithe of the lesson. He wishes he 
could understand it all the measuring gauges, for ex- 
ample, which make it possible to fit together bits of 
metal with an accuracy of one millionth of an inch; the 
implements used in the testing rooms, which are sur- 



154 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

rounded by glass, and the thousand and one achieve- 
ments of the foundry, machine shop, and assembly 
lines. As he drives away, his attention is diverted from 
the intricacies of these meticulous operations by the 
sight of a monster steel claw, which swings from a der- 
rick beside two towering blast furnaces. The claw is 
like a monstrous hand. Reaching down into the hold of 
a steamship anchored alongside, it hoists an eleven-ton 
handful of ore, which has just arrived from the Superior 
region to be used with limestone and coke in the mak- 
ing of pig iron. The steamship, the guide remarks, is 
one of those put into service in 1934 after lying up for 
two years. At the Ford factories, as elsewhere, many 
things which were recently out of service are laid up 
no longer. 

Before leaving the plant, the visitor may have been 
fortunate enough to meet the key men in the Adminis- 
tration Building, where Edsel Ford, Sorensen, Martin, 
and the others, have their offices. McCarroll, the chief 
chemist and metallurgist though he has no such 
formal title may have explained, if he could be per- 
suaded to spare ten minutes, some of the scientific ad- 
vances made in the past year, including the three new 
steel alloys one of which is being used to make the 
lighter and stronger crankshafts, turned out at the rate 
of 3,000 a day. He may have explained, too, the genesis 
of the latest valve push-rod, reduced in weight by one 
seventh of an ounce, and of a new wear-resisting ma- 
terial which reduces noise and makes it less necessary 
than ever before to have service on valves and push- 
rods. A year or so ago the metallurgist thought the 
valve push-rod could not be made lighter, but Ford 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 155 




The new V-8. 







An eight-cylinder Ford truck. 



156 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

walked in one day and insisted that it must be done. 
Months of experiments were necessary to get rid of that 
seventh of an ounce. 

Another achievement of which one learns in the 
chemistry division is the new enamel paint used on Ford 
cars. It is manufactured from the oil of the soy bean, 
and for the 1934 models its durability has been so im- 
proved that only water is recommended as a polish. The 
testers at River Rouge have subjected shiny cars to all 
sorts of maltreatment in proving the toughness and 
durability of this enamel. You can freeze it, bake it, or 
expose it to the rays of the tropical sun for months 
without damaging its original lustre. 

The soy bean furnishes a key exhibit for Ford's 
theory of the relation between agriculture and indus- 
try. Farmers, he says, can never make a living if they 
raise food alone. The soy bean is demonstrating that 
they can, if they will only learn how, produce materials 
needed by industry, which eventually should be able to 
get its raw supplies without denuding forests for wood 
and without mining for ores. 

Oil from soy beans is used by Ford for the lubricat- 
ing of machinery as well as for making paint. From the 
pulpy residue of the beans he has already put into pro- 
duction various small parts of automobiles, including 
the horn button and the gearshift knob. The substance 
has been used to perfect a steering wheel, soon to be 
produced in quantities, replacing the wheel made of 
bakelite composition. It is estimated that a half bushel 
of the beans are now used in the construction of every 
Ford car. Even an imitation of steel has been fashioned 
out of them, and slabs of it are to be seen in Ford's 



" 



UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 157 



laboratory. The synthetic metal appears to be as tough 
as steel. It is now going through innumerable experi- 
ments, with the view of using it to make entire car 
bodies. The use of beans in automobile manufacture 
seems to be only in its beginnings. 

"How did he hit upon the soy bean?" one of Ford's 
chief assistants was asked. 

"Soy beans were selected to illustrate the possible 
linking of farming and industry," was the answer, "be- 
cause they are easier to grow in more widely varying 
localities, and rebuild rather than deplete the soil." 

There are three thousand kinds of soy beans. Ford's 
experiments to identify the best variety are reminiscent 
of Edison's worldwide search for the most serviceable 
bamboo to use for a filament in the incandescent bulb. 
Out of twelve thousand acres under cultivation on the 
experimental farms in 1932, two thirds were devoted to 
beans. In 1933 the harvest was 100,000 bushels. There 
was no trouble finding uses for them. Not only are they 
becoming a standard source of automobile parts: from 
them have been extracted glycerin, explosives, water- 
proof goods, soaps, and printing ink. Incidentally, they 
are good to eat, if no more profitable way can be found 
to consume the crop. On his Chicago Exposition plot 
Ford laid out one acre for a soy bean exhibit, which 
comprises, besides growing beans, an old-fashioned barn 
equipped with a processing plant that any owner of a 
small farm can operate, with a capacity of one third of 
a ton of beans an hour. Finished moulded parts are 
being made from a plastic material produced from the 
residue after extracting the oil. 

Growing beans has not interfered with the other as- 



158 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

pects of Ford's agricultural experiments. The children 
of his primary schools cultivate their garden plots, forty 
by sixty-seven feet each, which are tilled, seeded, and 
turned over to them, along with small tools made to 
suit their size and strength. More than 80 per cent of 
the employees in and around Dearborn spend a part of 
their time gardening. Men from the smaller factories 
cultivate larger tracts of their own and share in the co- 
operative farming on Ford's thousands of acres. The 
progress of all these undertakings is recorded in the 
Ford News, the company's monthly magazine, along 
with doings in the plants and agencies. The school- 
children at Dearborn have their own publication, re- 
cently established and entitled the Herald, after the 
newspaper which Edison published in his boyhood. 

Holding no official post in his own company, of 
which his son is the president, Ford presides over his 
schools, farms, factories, and museum collections. He 
looks with natural pride upon the vast organization he 
has built. He likes to wander in the labyrinth of ma- 
chinery at River Rouge. Doubtless he congratulates 
himself on having evolved an institution of such im- 
mensity. But his thoughts often dwell on a future in 
which manufacturing will be decentralized and the 
large factory forced to yield to a system of smaller units 
closely linked with farm life. As he nears his seventy- 
first birthday, he has lost none of his faith in change 
for the better. 

"Are we coming back?" a visitor asked him as the 
summer of 1934 was approaching, when nearly every- 
body was still debating whether business recovery was 
a reality or a mirage. 



A "UNIVERSAL CAR" AGAIN: THE v-8 159 




EDSEL FORD 

President of the Ford Motor Company. 

"We never come back," he replied. "The saying that 
history repeats itself has no truth in it. We shall see 
better times, but never again the same old times." 



VIII 
DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 



D 



EARBORN, center of the Ford activities, has come 
to be a show place unique in the world; it would be an 
unrivaled show place if every vestige of manufacturing 
business were moved away tomorrow the Laboratory, 
the River Rouge Plant, the Airport, and all the other 
buildings identified with the motor industry. For with- 
out factories Dearborn would still have the Edison In- 
stitute, which is the name of the combined Edison 
Museum and the Greenfield Village, constructed to en- 
dure for generations as exhibitions of progress in 
engineering, mechanics, and the useful arts and crafts. 

"Hobbies" is a misnomer for these pursuits of Henry 
Ford, as each of them has behind it an educational, cul- 
tural, or scientific motive. Yet the boyish delight with' 
which he pours fortunes into enterprises having no 
chance of profit, except the satisfaction of seeing them 
through, causes a visitor at Dearborn to wonder if there 
ever was a pleasure-seeker so lavish or so successful in 
discovering the joy of living. His recreations are almost 
wholly confined to his business, his exhibitions and 
schools and farms, and his laboratory, where he dons 
overalls and works on new appliances when the humor 
strikes him. Skating is the only sport in which he has 
been known to indulge. 

Into the museum and historical village, planned to 

1 60 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 



161 



cover more than two hundred acres, visitors flock from 
far and near, each paying a quarter of a dollar to see 
treasures of which no Midas or Maharajah has dreamed. 
The twenty-five-cent admission fee, by the way, pays 
about 5 per cent of the cost of showing the visitor 
around and is designed merely to restrict attendance to 



if 




FACADE OF REPLICAS AT THE EDISON INSTITUTE 
Beyond this historical group of buildings is the vast museum. 

those who are interested. In the current year, three or 
four hundred thousand quarters may be collected at the 
gates. But the most fantastic estimate of attendance 
over a lifetime could not pay for the exhibits. Some 
day, when everybody knows about Dearborn, maybe 
the ticket-buyers will form an army big enough to de- 
fray the incidental expenses of maintaining the vast 
show. 

Imagine a group of buildings which are exact repro- 



1 62 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

ductions of Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and the 
old City Hall of Philadelphia. That is what the visitor 
sees as he motors a quarter-mile from the Dearborn Inn, 
the modernized New England hostelry which Ford has 
built as a model hotel and leased to an operating com- 
pany. The clock on the tower of Independence Hall 
chimes the hours. A continual stream of cars passes in 
and out of the semi-circular driveway. Toward the left 
side of the group of buildings is the auditorium, an up- 
to-date theater; to the right, classrooms used by the 
model school, one of many such institutions established 
for children living near Ford factories. The museum is 
in the rear of this facade of architectural replicas. 

Much has been said and written about the Edison In- 
stitute Museum. Yet nobody can have any conception 
of its vastness until he goes into it. Miles and miles of 
space, only partly filled now, stretch out before the as- 
tonished newcomer, who soon realizes it would require 
months, even years, to absorb the knowledge repre- 
sented by the collections. 

If the Madison Square Garden or the Waldorf- 
Astoria Hotel of New York could be lifted and set 
down in the museum, neither would cover half of the 
floor expanse; nor would the Coliseum of Chicago. The 
vast area, measuring 800 by 440 feet, still far from 
filled, is already a labyrinth of machinery, vehicles, rail- 
way tracks, streets, and miscellaneous inventions that 
tell the story of the centuries. Over the floor a covering 
of teakwood is being laid, and the forests of Burma 
could not send teakwood fast enough to keep pace with 
the experts employed by Ford to put the strips in place. 
This hard wood was selected because of its impervious- 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 163 

ness to water and rust. Its polished surface glistens like 
a dancing floor, over which ten thousand couples could 
waltz without touching elbows. The material for this 
floor cost about seventy thousand dollars, exclusive of 
labor. The value of the flooring is mentioned here only 
to give an idea of the scale on which the museum is 
being outfitted. Ford and his helpers do not talk about 
costs in connection with the vast educational plan. 



dffe 




The Dearborn Inn. 

Figures would be superfluous, anyway. The pricelessness 
of the museum's contents, as well as its usefulness, is 
evident to any casual observer. 

There is no limit to the character of inventions or 
appliances exhibited, nor their dates, nor the countries 
of their origin. Whatever depicts an advance in science 
or handicraft, or represents a phase in the development 
of engineering and mechanics and the useful arts of 
civilization, has its niche in the exhibition. Every piece 
of machinery, every table or chair, is renovated until it 
is as nearly as possible the same usable article it was in 
the beginning. As fast as the repair shop can do the job, 



164 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

an engine or motor is put into shape for actual run- 
ning; each machine is able, if reconstruction is pos- 
sible, to perform the function for which it was built. 
If Henry Ford wishes to drive a locomotive of 1850 
along the rails laid in grooves across the teakwood floor, 
the clumsy-looking creation can get up steam and go 
snorting from one side of the building to another; if he 
chooses to take a reminiscent spin in one of the run- 
abouts built in the 'nineties, all he needs is a gallon of 
gasoline^ before he seizes the tiller and dashes over the 
highway of teak. 

So many new impressions crowd themselves into the 
visitor's consciousness that he is overcome with the 
futility of trying to grasp all the facts poured into his 
ear by a clever young guide. Of one thing he is con- 
vinced immediately: Ford's chief interest in founding 
the museum may have been educational and scientific, 
but there is enough pure entertainment to thrill even a 
frivolous guest. You may go in search of knowledge, 
but you will find diversion as well. Or you may reverse 
the program and go seeking pleasure, only to find that 
you are being educated in spite of yourself. 

Let one stranger, who was overcome by the im- 
mensity of the place and the variety of its contents, 
recall at random a few of the things he saw: the earliest 
handloom, renovated to look and operate as it did two 
hundred years ago in Holland. An aisle of ancient spin- 
ning wheels, scores of them. Tablefuls of flatirons, all 
shapes and sizes, flanked by a group of ruffle irons. 
Pianos enough to fill a Fifth Avenue store. Furniture 
galore, from Chippendale and Heppelwhite and 
Hitchcock chairs to horsehair sofas; cabinets, bookcases, 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 165 

highboys, lowboys, beds, every conceivable appurte- 
nance of the household, showing what our ancestors' 
homes were like fifty or a hundred years ago. A whole 
street of stores, looking as they did in a village of our 
great-grandfathers' time, their shelves and walls made 
of the self-same wood or of modern planks stained and 
shaped into identical imitations. Shops of a pottery 
worker, a tinsmith, a candlemaker, a gunsmith, a lock- 
smith, and a harness maker. A volunteer fire depart- 
ment. An apothecary and barber shop. A clothing store 
of Revolutionary days, filled with the garments men 
and women wore then. A country hardware store, with 
all its old pans and pots, the iron stove and worn 
benches. Musical instruments without count, apropos of 
which it is said that in the beginning Ford was inter- 
ested only in their scientific and mechanical attributes, 
but that of late he is fascinated by their notes as well. 

Among the largest exhibits are a marine steam 
engine, such as was used on transatlantic liners before 
turbines came, and a generator as big as a house, run by 
gasoline and steam, which was in the Highland Park 
plant before the Ford factories were overhauled and 
rehabilitated in 1927. The mammoth engine mother 
of 15,000,000 Fords is also there. From these mam- 
moths the engines range down to the smallest 
mechanical contrivances. The history of steam power 
development is shown from the beginning. An engine 
of 1760 is the earliest, and there is every type between 
that and the Highland Park monster. 

As would be expected, the display of motor vehicles 
occupies a large section. Here are all the Ford models 
except the one treasure too precious even for a well- 



I 66 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

guarded museum: the first gasoline buggy of 1893, 
which the inventor keeps in his home. There are cars, 
too, of other makes, American and foreign. No shape or 
style is lacking. The primitives are there, with small 
wire wheels, doors at the back, lofty rear seats, bicycle 
tires, acetylene lamps, and none of the refinements we 
consider necessary today; the elaborately decorated, 
enormous affairs of a later decade; cars with one head- 
light instead of two, with three wheels instead of four, 
with every eccentric accessory that had its short day 
and faded out of memory; cars of all colors, length, and 
heights, with all sorts of engines, brakes, tops, and fit- 
tings. Near by are the resurrected "bikes" of the 
'eighties and 'nineties, as various in appearance and 
attachments as were the early automobiles; and the 
motorcycles of many designs. 

Of the more recent relics, the most conspicuous is a 
Mercedes car which the German Kaiser used in the 
World War for dashing around from one battlefront 
to another. It looks old-fashioned now, but is a gor- 
geous coach, inlaid with fine woods and ivory and gilt, 
its seats luxuriously upholstered to suit the taste of 
the War Lord. 

One of the features of the transportation group is a 
reproduction of the Rocket, the first successful steam 
locomotive, constructed in England in 1829. The origi- 
nal drawings were used for this second Rocket. A train 
of cars, their sides decorated with pictures in gay colors 
and drawn by the historic Sam Hill locomotive, sug- 
gests the very style of train from which Edison was 
ejected as a boy, when an explosion disclosed the fact 
that the future Wizard of Electricity had a laboratory 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 167 

concealed in the baggage car. Edison rode in this train 
and sold papers to a distinguished company on the 
Fiftieth Anniversary of the Invention of the Incan- 
descent Light, observed at Dearborn in October, 1929. 
The era of horse-drawn vehicles is recalled by an 





IN THE EDISON MUSEUM 

Where railway tracks are imbedded in the famous teakwood 

floor. 

array of equipages hardly less extensive than the auto- 
mobiles. One sees a three-wheeled phaeton in which 
General Lafayette rode, a sleigh that carried George 
Washington, buggies, racing gigs on two wheels, 
coaches, shays, barouches, victorias, buckboards, omni- 
buses, wagons, ancient carts, and a still more ancient 
Russian vehicle whose two wheels look indestructible. 

Many of the old machines and furnishings are not 
merely types, but have romantic stories connected with 



1 68 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

them. A chandelier has been rescued from some his- 
toric building torn down a score of years ago. A 
mahogany couch was once owned by George Washing- 
ton. The parlor furniture of Abraham Lincoln, sold by 
his widow to a family that moved to Canada, and finally 
redeemed by Ford, occupies a prominent place. Near it 
is a desk of General Grant. The wood carver's art and 
the dainty skill of the expert who made early American 
chairs and tables are shown by examples mended and 
repolished until they are as good as new. 

In the agricultural collection, extending across the 
building at one end, every kind of farm equipment is 
shown, from hoes and axes to the threshing machine, 
including mowers, rakes, plows, beehives, sap buckets, 
and a multitude of devices both primitive and modern. 
The blacksmith shop of Caleb Taft, dating back to 
1830, has been reproduced entire, and Ford brought its 
complete equipment from Uxbridge, Mass. An old sling 
for shoeing oxen, a hand bellows, a forge and various 
tools are arranged just as they were when the poet 
Longfellow used to visit his friend the blacksmith. 

Ford buys more rapidly than he can have his pur- 
chases repaired and arranged. In various odd corners are 
stored objects of rare interest, awaiting their turn in the 
renovation shop. The founder's own testing laboratory, 
in the building where he makes his headquarters, is 
decorated by a line of chandeliers and lamps a hundred 
yards in length, because there is not yet a place pre- 
pared for them in the museum. All the buildings round- 
about are temporarily sheltering exhibits not yet finally 
rehabilitated. Out in a vacant lot are hundreds of old 
engines, wheels, and machines, rusty and seemingly 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 169 




ANTIQUE IMPLEMENTS IN THE MUSEUM 

"The Village Smithy" where the poet Longfellow visited his 

friend Caleb Taft. 



I/O THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

abandoned to the elements, which some day will be re- 
furbished and installed where they can teach their les- 
sons of a bygone day. 

As the collections grow, so does the library of vol- 
umes dealing with scientific subjects in many languages. 
The books are in rather a jumble now. They are shoved 
away in several upstairs rooms in one of the Institute's 
buildings, waiting for an expert librarian to catalogue 
them and prepare indexes. Meanwhile a young graduate 
of the Ford Trade School, after making a study of the 
museum, has been promoted to the job of cataloguing 
all the articles in the institution. He is one of the Ford 
organization's enthusiasts. Probably he will not be a 
young man when his task is finished, but one gets the 
impression that he thinks the museum is worth all the 
years anybody can give to it. 

The Greenfield Village, like the museum, is domi- 
nated by the name of Edison. It was opened to the 
public on June 13, 1933, after so many Dearborn visi- 
tors had asked to see it that a regular schedule was 
necessary to take care of them. The village is really an- 
other museum, with many small buildings gathered 
around an old-fashioned greensward. No motorcar 
enters its gates. The first sight that attracts the new- 
comer's attention is a leisurely procession of wheeled 
vehicles, each drawn by two horses of quality. In these 
dignified transports the visitors are taken from one 
building to another, when the distances are too great for 
walking. Nearly every aspect of the enclosure reflects 
village life in America fifty or seventy-five years ago; 
but a concession to modernity will be a system of hard 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 

surfaced highways, because on rainy days the present 
roads produce some genuine old-fashioned mud. 

A tour of the village, under the leadership of a guide 
trained in the lore of community life in the nineteenth 
century, begins with a visit to the Clinton Inn. Built in 
183132, this old hostelry stood in Clinton, Mich., and 




t . 1 

Only horses and carriages arc used at the Greenfield Village. 

was a stopping place for coaches between Detroit and 
Chicago. Its ballroom has a spring floor, which gives 
gently under dancing feet. Ford moved the structure 
intact to Dearborn and has furnished it as it was when 
a famous ball was held on the spring floor on New 
Year's Eve of 1876. Hard by is a stone mill, as yet un- 
completed. The Chapel of Martha-Mary, named for the 
mothers of Mr. and Mrs. Ford, has a spire modeled after 



1 72 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

one in Bradford, Mass., and the bricks and front door 
are from the girlhood home of Mrs. Ford, in Green- 
field Township, which adjoins her husband's native 
Dearborn Township. In sight of the inn and the chapel 
is a stern-paddle Mississippi River boat, floating placidly 
in the shallows of the River Rouge, which bends around 
a corner of the village. Ford has installed the original 
engines in the craft, having bought it in Florida after 
learning that Edison used to be among its passengers on 
the Caloosahatchee River. 

The original red schoolhouse in which Ford occupied 
a back seat as a boy, with its desks in replica just as they 
were in the old days of the Scotch settlement of Dear- 
born, stands not far from the Lincoln courthouse, the 
two-story walnut structure imported from Logan 
County, 111. A fire lighted by Herbert Hoover in 1929 
burns perpetually in the same fireplace where Lincoln 
warmed himself before addressing the judge. 

The Town Hall, community center of the village, 
faces the common, opposite the chapel. Across the street 
is the ornamental jewelry shop of Sir John Bennett, 
celebrated watchmaker of Fleet Street, London, im- 
ported intact with its clock tower and its effigies of 
Gog and Magog over the doorway. Inside are glass cases 
filled with watches and other examples of the jeweler's 
art, and massive clocks ranging from the fancy French 
type to a great gilded timepiece built in the form of an 
Oriental palace for an Indian potentate. The collection 
of watches has a particular sentimental value for Ford, 
who in his younger days was hesitant between the two 
ambitions of making horseless vehicles and manufac- 
turing watches. 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 173 

A rectangular yard, with a white picket fence around 
it, contains the preeminent exhibit of the village the 
Menlo Park group of buildings, reconstructed from, or 
reproductions of, the structures in which Thomas A. 
Edison labored from 1876 to 1886. From New Jersey, 
too, was brought Francis Jehl. No fairy tale can rival 
the story of Mr. Jehl, who presides over the identical 
laboratory in which he worked with Edison as the chief 
assistant of the inventor. He is the only man in all the 
world who ever recaptured his youth. Sitting there in 
the Menlo Park Laboratory, surrounded by the early 
models of the incandescent light, the first phonograph, 
the original carbon telephone transmitter, and all the 
incidental equipment of Edison's workshop, Francis Jehl 
gives the lie to the fact that time cannot turn back; for 
him it is actually repeating itself. When he shows you 
his treasures (for they seem to belong to him quite as 
much as to Henry Ford) , you have the feeling that he 
imagines his former chief is still standing at his elbow. 
He talks of Edison as though the great inventor were 
present in the flesh, while he caresses an incandescent 
bulb within which a yellow light shines from the origi- 
nal filament made of carbonized paper, or shows how 
the first mimeograph is operated, or demonstrates the 
working of the earliest Edison telephone. If there is a 
happier human than Jehl, this chronicler has not seen 
him. 

In one corner of the laboratory stands the telegraph 
table at which Edison sat and talked with his fingers to 
distant friends before the telephone was invented. He 
used the table first in Newark, then Menlo Park, West 



IJ4 TH E TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

Orange, and Fort Myers, Fla. It followed him through 
life until he gave it to Ford. 

The armchair used by the Wizard as he experimented 
with incandescent lamps stands close by. From that 
chair for forty hours he watched his final test on 
October 21, 1879. When this moment was reenacted 
on its fiftieth anniversary, he sat in the chair again, 
while President Hoover and Mr. Ford stood behind him. 
On a stepladder, operating the mercury pump to ex- 
haust the air from the lamp, was Francis Jehl, now the 
last survivor of those who assisted Edison in the labora- 
tory during that period. So accurately had the room 
been restored for the celebration that Edison declared it 
was 99.9 per cent perfect. 

"What about the other one-tenth of one per cent?" 
asked Ford. 

"Oh, look at that floor!" exclaimed Edison. "It is no- 
where near so dirty as ours used to be." 

The office and library building used by Edison in 
Menlo Park had been dismantled, so Ford reconstructed 
it with bricks from the same yard that supplied the 
material for the original structure. The small carbon 
shed and carpenter shop, like the larger buildings, are 
placed in exactly the same relative positions they occu- 
pied in New Jersey. In the Edison group are nine struc- 
tures. The one that most interests the sightseer, after the 
laboratory, is Mrs. Sarah Jordan's Boarding House, 
where some of the inventor's helpers took their meals. 
Wires were run to it for the first successful demonstra- 
tion of the incandescent lamp as an invention for house- 
hold use. 

Farther along the village streets, after leaving the 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 1/5 

Edison section, the visitor enters Luther Burbank's 
office, transported from his experimental farm in Cali- 
fornia, and next the restored Canadian homestead of 
Edison's father, who fled to the United States after he 
was accused of complicity in the rebellion of 1837. The 
Cotswold Cottage Group, more than two centuries old, 
imported from England and reconstructed to appear 
exactly as it was in the sheepherding district where it 
sheltered two families for ten or twelve generations, 
has been equipped with furniture of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, including leather pitchers, wooden trenchers, and 
a Bible chest. The Secretary House, constructed in 1751 
at Exeter, N. H., is an example of early Colonial archi- 
tecture. Clark House, erected by Henry Ford's uncle, 
was brought to the village as a typical specimen of the 
homes common to Michigan seventy-five years ago. 

One of the smallest cottages is the one in which the 
late Charles P. Steinmetz, consulting engineer of the 
General Electric Company, found seclusion in the woods 
near Schenectady, N. Y. Another diminutive structure 
is the Greenfield Post Office, built in Connecticut in 
1803. On its new site, it is not only a decorative 
antique, but actually handles Uncle Sam's mails, doing 
a considerable business in souvenir postcards nowadays. 
An old pharmacy with its complete stock of bottles and 
files of old prescriptions occupies one end of the build- 
ing, which is put together with hand-wrought nails and 
has hand-made shutters and laths. 

Then one visits the Tintype Studio, a relic of days 
almost forgotten; also the Waterford Country Store, 
its ante-bellum contents intact, and the Gardner Home, 
a pioneer house aged one hundred and eleven years. 



iy6 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

A log cabin, with an outdoor oven at the back, is an im- 
portation from the countryside near Ford's boyhood 
home. A tiny shoemaking shop has been brought from 
Massachusetts, where it was built in 1828 as a tollkeeper's 
stall on the banks of the Merrimac. Next door is a re- 
stored house from Plymouth, Mich., dating from 1845. 
A shoe shop from New Hampshire and a cooperage 
shop from the same state, the latter built in 1785, are 
fitting neighbors of a blacksmith's place, the boss of 
which shoes the fine horses that haul carriages and shays 
about the village. 

One cannot get away from memories of Edison in the 
village, which includes the old Smith's Creek station 
where the boy Edison was put off a Grand Trunk train 
for setting fire to the contents of the baggage car, while 
he was acting officially as news agent and personally as 
an amateur chemist. Where the boy and his "labora- 
tory" were ousted from the car, the depot has been 
restored to its condition of sixty years ago. The old- 
fashioned luggage, the telegraph instruments and the 
living quarters of the agent are all there, and a train 
resembling the one on which Edison sold newspapers 
and confections stands in the museum. A special track 
was laid to bring Edison and the other distinguished 
guests to the half-century anniversary celebration in 
1929. 

A frame shelter houses the only original Edison 
jumbo dynamo which was not burned in the Pearl 
Street electrical station fire of 1890. An old carding 
mill, erected a century ago, to which the Michigan 
farmers hauled their wool, is used by the students of 
Ford's school for weaving cloth in the old patterns. A 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 1/7 

historical pipe engine house, where volunteer firemen 
stored their engine and equipment, was brought from 
New Hampshire, and the first power silk mill built in 
the United States from Connecticut. A Sandwich glass 
plant has been reconstructed by using some of the 
original bricks from America's first pressed glass fac- 
tory in Cape Cod, Mass. An aged foundry was trans- 
ported from Lapeer, Michigan; a stone burr grist mill 
from the River Raisin near Monroe, Mich., and a 
ninety-year-old sawmill from the same neighborhood. 

Many among the historic relics in the village have a 
sentimental interest for Henry Ford, linked as they are 
with his own life. He drops into his old workshop 
almost daily. It is a small brick affair, and it stood in 
the backyard of his house at 5 8 Bagley Avenue, Detroit. 
There he built his first automobile, the gasoline buggy 
of 1893, while employed as engineer by the Detroit 
Edison Company. Bringing back recollections of a still 
earlier time is the reconstructed log cabin in which was 
born William Holmes McGuffey, whose school readers 
were used in the classes Ford attended, as they were in 
thousands of other schoolrooms throughout the land. 
The cabin was moved from Pennsylvania. A recent ac- 
quisition from that state, purchased for renovation on a 
site beside the McGuffey memorial, is the cottage birth- 
place of Stephen Collins Foster, composer of some of 
the most famous of American songs. 

The Armington and Sims Machine Shop, a typical 
steam engine manufacturing plant of the 'eighties, from 
which Edison bought a high-speed engine for use in his 
first incandescent lighting system, is another building 
which Ford often visits. This plant was moved to Dear- 



1/8 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

born practically intact. Ford lingers over its old ma- 
chines, discussing their points with the man in charge. 
The workings of a steam engine are as fascinating to 
the inventor today as they were when at the age of 
twelve years he watched a lumbering road machine and 
dreamed his dreams of the horseless carriage. 

Few are the modern touches in the Greenfield Village. 
When any new thing is permitted to intrude itself into 
the company of the antiques, there is a practical and 
educational reason for it, and the incongruity is lost in 
continuity. The Research Laboratory, wherein students 
of the Ford school carry on experiments in agricultural 
chemistry, is an up-to-date workshop in form and 
equipment. Another such structure is the temporary 
Soy Bean Extracting Plant, where the experimental 
farm pupils learn about the famous beans and their 
by-products, which of late have played so great a part 
in the making of Ford automobiles. 

The inventor's concentration of historic relics at 
Dearborn, while it represents the major part of his col- 
lections, does not tell all the story. He has bought and 
renovated many other old buildings, distinctive of their 
periods, and left them on their original sites, notably 
the Wayside Inn, at South Sudbury, Mass., and the 
Botsford Inn, sixteen miles from Detroit. In these 
restorations he has played his part in a national move- 
ment. Thirty-five years of the automobile and good 
roads from 1895, when only 4 motorcars were reg- 
istered in the United States, to 1930, when the peak of 
23,000,000 cars was reached saw more than 600 his- 
toric buildings in this country opened as public shrines. 
Similarly, the growth of rapid and comfortable road 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 1/9 

transport may be credited with the success of our 
National Parks, whose attractions might as well have 
been non-existent if the motor had not made them 
accessible. 

The school at the Edison Institute, though it is one of 
a chain of schools operated in connection with Ford 
enterprises and is conducted on the same principles as 
the others in the system, has the distinction of being 
continually under the personal supervision of the 
founder. Its no pupils, ranging from five to thirteen 
years old and reaching what is called the "junior high" 
grade, are recruited from the Dearborn district im- 
mediately surrounding Ford headquarters. The appli- 
cants are numerous, and each waits his or her turn for 
admittance. Favoritism is barred. First come, first 
served, is the rule. At a recent gathering of the chil- 
dren, the daughter of a plant employee and a niece of 
Mrs. Henry Ford were pointed out as two typical mem- 
bers of the higher classes. 

In other Ford schools the children are under expert 
teachers and occupy scientifically arranged buildings, 
but only at the Edison Institute are there such facilities 
for the absorption of knowledge as are afforded by the 
museum and the historical village. The fairy-tale exist- 
ence of these young people of Dearborn dazzles one's 
imagination. As a department head in the organization 
remarked recently to the writer: 

"No small school in the world is maintained at such 
cost or with such unlimited equipment, and yet the 
students pay not a cent for tuition." 

The comradeship between Henry Ford and the 
youngsters is illustrative of the manufacturer's interest 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 



181 



in activities outside his factories. No day is too busy for 
him to visit one or another group of the children, some 
of them busy in classrooms, others learning the lessons 
of the museum or the village. It is not unusual for him 
to act as guide, surrounded by boys and girls, among 
the mechanical wonders of the institute. Love of chil- 
dren is his ruling passion, even throwing into the back- 
ground, for hours together, his devotion to the motor 
and the steam engine. The girls and boys take liberties 
with the museum treasures that would bring an im- 
mediate rebuke to any grown-up. It is related that the 
younger children, when the chief is with them, crawl in 
and out of locomotive cabs, leap upon antique cars that 
are usually guarded as too sacred for ordinary mortals 




Greenfield Village school children in Pinafore Henry Ford 
as impresario. 



1 82 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

to touch, and even ride bicycles over the teakwood 
floor. 

The grand climax of the school year in 1934 was a 
musical revue, with Ford as impresario. In the Museum 
Theatre, as comfortable a playhouse as Broadway can 
boast, the no children put on a part of the operetta 
Pinafore, performed old-fashioned dances (including 
the waltz, which seems not to be out of style any 
more) , and sang old songs before an audience that 
packed the house and enjoyed every minute of the 
show. In the front row of the balcony sat Ford, as 
happy as the youngest of the players. 

After an overture by the Ford orchestra, composed of 
workers in the plants, and a prologue by two students, 
came the Pinafore scene. In that and the succeeding 
numbers every pupil had some part; not one of the no 
was left out, from the tiny five-year-olds to the digni- 
fied elders of twelve and thirteen years. The Admiral 
of the Queen's Navee disported himself in gold lace and 
cocked hat with becoming gravity, and the convolu- 
tions of the huge chorus were faultlessly precise. It was 
evident that there had been expert trainers for all the 
performers in that show, and no professional producer 
was ever more careful about the accuracy of his cos- 
tumes or the brilliance of his scene painting. 

Of the miscellaneous musical and dancing numbers, 
the violin solos of a twelve-year-old boy were of tre- 
mendous interest for a very special reason. In the Ford 
world news travels fast, as it does in less model worlds. 
Everybody in or about Dearborn knew that the violinist 
that evening was playing Mr. Ford's Stradivarius valued 
at $50,000. It must be recorded that the performer 



DEARBORN, THE WONDER TOWN 



i8 3 



acted as naturally as though the treasure in his hands 
were a five-dollar fiddle. 

Some of the songs the boys and girls sang were "My 
Hero," "I Can't Do That Sum," "When You and I 
Were Young, Maggie," the Toreador song, and "Be- 
cause You're You." A modern number was "The Last 




THE EXPERIMENTAL LABORATORY, DEARBORN 
Here Henry Ford has his headquarters, though rarely occupy- 
ing his private office. 

Round-up." In a long list of dances were included the 
polka, gallop, reel, and quadrille, besides the waltzes in 
which many couples circled over the stage with a skill 
acquired through regular lessons from a dancing master 
during the past months. In the last part of the program, 
following a gorgeous scene depicting a gypsy camp, 
were the Anvil Chorus, a scarf dance, and songs re- 
flecting life in the woodland. When it was all over, a 



184 THE TRIUMPH OF AN IDEA 

large individual, who had no part in the show and was 
by no means as gorgeously costumed as the young 
participants, retrieved the Stradivarius and took it 
away to a place of safety. 

That incident of the priceless violin typifies the story 
of Henry Ford. Nothing was left undone to make the 
boy musician's performance as nearly perfect as pos- 
sible; the best instrument was none too good. It is with 
the same ardor for perfection that the motor manu- 
facturer still demands change, always change, in the 
mechanical details of cars and engines. The chief 
chemist and metallurgist at the River Rouge Plant is 
confronted with a demand that he reduce the weight 
of a valve push-rod one seventh of an ounce without 
aifecting its strength. The expert on paint is bidden to 
improve his soy-bean product to last longer and shine 
better. So it goes, through all the departments. Tests to 
improve a single screw or bolt continue for months. 
The pursuit of the ultimate goal, economical service, 
has persisted from the inception of the "universal car'* 
to the V-8 with its fifteen thousand parts. 




THE EDISON INSNTUTE 

and its INTERESTING HISTORICAL 

VILLAGE 

Thousands of persons from all parts 
of the world come to Dearborn, Mich- 
igan, to see the Museum and Histori- 
cal Village of the Edison Institute. 
The greatest factor in the progress of 
the human race from age to age is what 
it learns by experience. In the Mu- 
seum and Village, Henry Ford has 
preserved many of the fine things of 
the past in craftsmanship, in manu- 
factured objects, in standards of qual- 
ity, precision, beauty. Here the visi- 
tor may see some of the old processes 
of manufacture in operation, and thz 
student find a field of great educa- 
tional value. The Day School with its 
hundred scholars, which is a part of the 
Village, has aroused the interest of 
educators all over the Country. A 
full description of the Museum, the 
Village, the Edison Institute and the 
School will be found in this volume. 



igh-lights of the fifty-year period in 
rhich Henry Ford has become one of 
America's great industrial powers; also 
le story of his titan plant at Dearborn